Bill Proposes Clearer Laws For Prescription Drug Abuse

6:35 PM, Feb 6, 2014   |    comments
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Columbia, SC (WLTX) --  A proposed bill is trying to set a new standard in laws to prevent prescription drug abuse.

"Right now we don't have any laws that we can charge anybody with trafficking pills," Agent Anthony Branham with the Columbia Police Department said.

Branham has been a narcotics agent for over 18 years.

He says the possession and sale of prescription drugs is becoming a big problem.

"If we were to find someone with either one pill or five thousand pills it's all going to be one charge,  it's just possession of whatever controlled substance it is," Branham said.

That's where Sen. Thomas Alexander and Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell come in.

The two held a press conference today to introduce a proposed bill that would clarify laws already on the books.

"We're also hearing from law enforcement and the solicitors that there's a gray area as to their ability to prosecute and sometimes if the penalties were not too severe then it made it harder for them to make a case," Alexander said.

"Most people go through some type of pre-trial intervention program or diversion program and never see a day in jail," Branham said.

The bill will address trafficking and give at least a year in jail to those caught with less than 100 pills.

Alexander says that although the goal is to catch criminals, it's also to protect the elderly.

"They're being abused, they're taken advantage of and so many times they're at the mercy of the caregivers or they're at the mercy of family members that are running errands for them but, then withholding those medicines for a financial benefit," Alexander said.

The bill would also make it illegal to have multiple prescriptions for the same drug.

"It is a constant war, it's a constant battle, but it's worth the fight," Alexander said.

Branham says if you're taking prescriptions, make sure to lock them up.

And if you have old medicines you don't need, you can drop them off at the Columbia Police Department or participating pharmacies to be destroyed.


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