Opioid Prescription Painkiller Drug Charges
There is a growing epidemic of opioid-derived prescription pain medication. These medications, such as hydrocodone, codeine, methadone, meperidine, hydromorphone, and fentanyl, are some of the most addictive and dangerous substances known. In recent years, tens of thousands of Americans become addicted after a serious injury and accidentally die from overdoses. The epidemic is largely the doing of the pharmaceutical industry, pushing pills in enormous numbers onto people who do not need them or only need enough for a short time period after a work accident or car crash. In fact, a drug wholesaler shipped more than nine million opioid pills to a single pharmacy in West Virginia over the course of just two years, according to Quartz Media. Physicians stand to gain substantial sums of money by over prescribing these opioid pain medications to their patience as well, often billing insurance hundreds of times what the pills cost through a process called “repackaging.” While pharmaceutical companies or their CEOs are never in jeopardy of facing jail or prison time, and physicians rarely are, the sale of these drugs can result in serious incarceration charges for an individual possessing, possessing with intent to distribute, or selling opioid prescription drugs.
Penalties for Possession and Trafficking Schedule III Drugs in Virginia
Opioid prescription drugs are classified as Schedule III controlled substances, as per Virginia § 54.1-3450. Simple possession of a Schedule III controlled substance, such as hydrocodone, is a class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and maximum fine of $2,500. Likewise, trafficking of a Schedule III controlled substance is a class 1 misdemeanor. However, sale on or near a school, university, state hospital, public library, public community center, or public recreation area is a felony, punishable by at least one year and a maximum of five years in prison, with a maximum fine of $100,000.
House Committee Approves Seven Bills to Fight Opioid Crisis in Virginia
Every day, three Virginians die of an opioid overdose. As such, a Virginia House committee recently approved seven new bills that would combat the growing epidemic. These bills would limit prescriptions containing opioids, establish guidelines for use, and make opioid overdose reversal drugs more available, according to WTVR.com. Three of the seven bills are described below:
- House Bill 1885 would limit physicians to prescribing no more than seven days of opioid-containing medication, except if the patient is a cancer or chronic pain patient;
- House Bill 2165 would require all drugs containing opioids to go through electronic prescriptions, which would aim to reduce prescription fraud; and
- House Bill 1750 would allow pharmacists to administer opioid overdose antidote medication to patients without a prescription.
As Virginia strengthens measures to fight the opioid epidemic, those charged with illegal prescription pain medication and trafficking are likely to see their maximum punishments pursued by the law.
Call a Loudoun County, Leesburg, Winchester, Fairfax, and Prince William Attorney Today
Have you been charged with possession or trafficking of a Schedule III controlled substance? If you have, you need experienced criminal defense counsel immediately. Call the Loudoun County, Leesburg, Winchester, Fairfax, and Prince William attorneys of Simms Showers, LLP today at 703-997-7821.