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Narcotics and the Law

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  • Narcotics and the Law

    There seems to be a great deal of fear in the IC community (probably in other chronic disease communities as well since most of us here have more than one disease; I do) surround 'controlled substances.'

    I'd like to shed some light on the subject because I can speak with some authority on it as a former pharmacy tech who had to to study pharmacy law--IF that was the part I was awake for--JUST KIDDING!

    First thing: Oxycodone in any form (Oxycontin, Percocet, Roxicet, Tylox, etc) is Schedule II and I cannot see, tho' I'd like to be wrong, the FDA reclassifying it as a Schedule III.

    Now on to the source of all this "schedule" stuff.

    In 1970 Congress pass the "Controlled Substances Act of 1970." Here after "CSA." This created the modern drug "control/prohibition" system that we live and suffer under.

    This misguided effort was to stremline and rationalize that drug "control" system in this country. It was also part of the "war" on drugs launched by the Nixon Administration; it has of course failed miserably. But that's another website, let alone topic!

    The CSA created five categories of drugs that were to fall under a range of restrictions. I list them below:

    (And remember, this is Federal Law)

    Schedule I:

    Drugs with "no medical value"; examples are heroin, LSD, marijuana, Ecstasy, PCP, etc. (Though the first three very definite have legitimate uses, medicine bowed to politics; many Euro countries, including Britain still allow heroin as a medicine; the Brits call in "diamorphine.") Under Federal Law there is no defense to possessing these substances; according to a Supreme Court ruling last year, "medical need" is not a defense to their possession.

    Schedule II:

    "Highly" addictive/dangerous drugs which still had major medical value. E.g. cocaine (still used in ENT and eye procedures), morphine, oxycodone, seconal, and many others. With these you are allowed only one month's supply and must have a written prescription (the exact procedure varies by state; my state allows printed Rxs with the doc's signature; CA, next door, requires triplicate Rx forms that must be entirely handwritten by the provider). No refills are allowed.

    There is an emergency exception to this. In an EMERGENCY situation your provider, upon his discretion, call in a Schedule II script as longs as the Pharmacist accepts it and a hard copy script is delivered to the pharmacy within 72 hours. Most doctors don't want you to know this. But it's the law.

    Schedule III:

    Drugs with much lower potential for "abuse"/addiction etc. Examples are Vicodin and certain "sleeping pills." You can have five refills within six months if your provider agrees.

    Schedule IV:

    Drugs with a minor possibility of abuse/addiction. Many of the mild tranqs fall into this category: Valium, Ativan, Xanax (WATCH MIXING WITH OXYCONTIN!!!) and some of the less effective narcotics such as Talwin Nx (which may no longer be available.) The same refill rules apply to this category as the ones in Schedule III.

    Schedule V:

    Basically, cough syrup with codeine or certain injectible narcotics not considered to represent the 'abuse' potential of the "stronger" narcotics--even tho' there's not chemical difference in how the react in the brain; my wife had Stadol, a none-scheduled narcotic during labor and it got her wasted like she'd stumbled in from a three day party; well she was in labor for 32 hours, with 8 hrs hard labor).

    Some states, such as Texas, I've been told, allow people to purchase Schedule V's meds over the counter with just a signature (in the way many states handle diabetic syringes) by the patient.

    It should be noted that violations of the CSA can bring severe prison sentences. Even tho' "addicts" are rarely imprisoned themselves, the penalty is one year in prison per pill for schedules II, III & IV. So acquiring, illegally, a large stash could lead to a stay in Club Fed no matter what your intentions were. ALWAYS KEEP YOUR SCHEDULED MED CONTAINERS JUST IN CASE YOUR NEED TO PROVE YOUR POSSESS THEM LEGALLY! It should be noted that a defense to illegal possession is that you've had a legal Rx at any time in the past.

    Every state and the DEA keeps track of Schedule II meds. A papertrail does exist. There are also onerous paperwork demands upon pharmacy and doctor (hence the specializtion of pain doctors that has arisen). Keep that in mind if desperation should ever suggest something stupid to you (I'm on no high horse here, I've been desperate for pain relief myself).

    Laws vary by state, but I ALWAYS, when switching pain doctors, fax a letter to previos one stating that I am now getting my meds from Doctor XYZ and "you are hereby notified that [the new doctor] has written me scripts for .....". Just to be safe, I also, when I get home, fax a letter for my chart reiterating to the new doc that I had gotten scripts from the previous doctor. That way, if your are ever investigated--perhaps after being reported by a malicious doctor or personal enemy--you can easily prove that followed the law.

    While "doctor shopping" isn't against Federal Law (to my knowledge, if a lawyer could clear up any mistakes, this is most welcome!), every state does have a law against it and it's almost always a felony.

    The period one must wait between doctors--beofer running afoul of "doctor shopping" statutes-- varies by state.

    So, if you taking Sch II's chronically, look up your state laws and know what they say.

    In my state of NV, the time period is: less than 30 days requires notification of both doctors. Other states vary.

    ALWAYS put your notifications in writing. And, if you really don't trust your former physician, make sure to send it return receipt and write "Prescription Notice" on the card, so you can prove you followed the law.

    Sorry this took so long, but it's not a simple subject. This doesn't exhaust my knowledge, but surely has exhausted your patience.

    thanks. God Bless and Cure Us All!

    And please, if any attorneys see errors in my post, please reply to correct them; I'm not a lawyer and have tried to be as conservative as possible on the side of safety. But please correct me if I'm wrong!

  • #2
    thank you for your info it is nice to know of the emergency thing though my pc just did give me some that way. We have rights to and sittinng in pain on the mercy of some docs is just so damn unfair. One day this will all be a bad memory (i hope)