Understanding the Law Around Distributing a Legend Drug

The state of Louisiana takes drug offenses very seriously. That’s because drug distribution continues to pose a serious threat in the state.

But when we think of drug distribution, we tend to think of cocaine and heroin. What most people don’t know is the courts, especially in the Baton Rouge area, take the distribution of legend drugs extremely seriously.

If you’re facing a legend drug charge, here’s what to know about these drugs and when you need a lawyer.

This video describes illegal possession of prescription legend drugs.

What Is a Legend Drug?

What is a legend drug? In short, a legend drug is one that can only be distributed with a prescription. These drugs are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), such as pharmaceuticals.

However, you need approval from a doctor or other licensed practitioner to take the drug. The only place you can legally get these drugs is from a business that has the license to distribute these drugs, such as a pharmacy.

Distributing legend drugs without a proper license results in serious legal consequences.

Overview of Legend Drugs

Legend drugs become more complex than this. The reason why they’re called “legend drugs” is they require a statement prohibiting their sale without a proper license. This statement is called a “legend.”

There are also strict standards for storing and maintaining these drugs. The federal government also has standards for the proper disposal of these drugs.

What isn’t a “legend drug?” Any drugs that are over-the-counter don’t have the same strict federal regulations.

For example, an OTC painkiller like ibuprofen isn’t a legend drug, but Morphine is a Schedule II narcotic under the Controlled Substances Act. Therefore, it’s a legend drug and you need a proper license to distribute, store, maintain, and dispose of it.

Why are some drugs considered legend drugs and others aren’t? Legend drugs show evidence to be habit-forming.

Some of the most common legend drugs are painkillers and antidepressants. Because of this, physicians are required to keep records of all prescriptions they give to patients, both legend and non-legend drugs.

Just because a drug is on the Controlled Substances list doesn’t mean it’s a legend drug. For example, LSD is a Schedule I drug, which means it has no accepted medical use. However, it’s still illegal and distribution can result in criminal charges.

What are some examples of dispensing drugs? Buying the drugs online from an individual who isn’t licensed is a common example.


Let’s say you’re injured and are having some pain. You contact your doctor and you receive prescription drugs for your pain. This drug is not available over the counter and is prescribed at a higher dose, so you need to go to a licensed pharmacy in order to get the drug.

Since the pharmacy was licensed and you got the prescription from a doctor, there were no laws broken.

However, let’s say you need some extra cash and never used all of your prescription painkillers. You start selling them, whether to friends or you sell them to strangers. This is known as the distribution of legend drugs

The Louisiana Law and the Distribution of Legend Drugs

While the federal government imposes restrictions on the illegal distribution of legend drugs, they govern the labeling of legend drugs. Criminal penalties are handled within each individual state.

Different states have their own charges and penalties. How does the state of Louisiana govern the distribution of legend drugs?

First, Louisiana defines the illegal distribution of legend drugs as any person who sells, delivers, or possesses any legend drug except upon the order or prescription of a physician or licensed health care practitioner.

If you’re caught violating this law, the penalty is imprisonment at a maximum five-year sentence. You may also be subjected to hard labor and may pay a fine of $5,000.

Charges You May Face

Keep in mind, the penalties you face depend on the charges set upon you. These charges may include:

  • Distribution of Prescription Legend Drugs
  • Possession of Prescription Legend Drugs
  • Prescription Forgery
  • Obtaining Drugs by Fraud
  • Failure to Carry a Prescription Drug in Its Original Container
  • Theft of Prescription

Many of these crimes come in different degrees, and the degree of the crime you face depends on the prison sentence you’ll receive. Because of this, you will likely need a skilled attorney to defend your case.

When You Need a Skilled Attorney

A criminal lawyer can make a defense for your case. Even though the crimes you committed and the penalties are face are serious, a criminal lawyer can help reduce or even eliminate your penalties.

How can a criminal lawyer assist you with this? They know the nuances of illegal drug laws in Louisiana. They will use their knowledge to decrease your penalties.

Possible Defense for Distributing Legend Drugs

The defense your lawyer uses depends on your unique case. However, a lawyer can use specific information to work in your favor.

Examples include your clientele (are these your friends?), for what reason you sold the drugs, how often you sold (did you only distribute a few doses over an extended period of time?), if the drugs were prescribed to you, and more.

Depending on the information that your lawyer can extract, they will deliver these justifications to the court in order to drop your charges.

Keep in mind, your lawyer likely can’t drop anything over a second-degree offense. If you are experiencing a more serious charge, your lawyer can likely create a plea agreement that will significantly reduce your sentence.

Are You Facing Legend Drug Charges in Baton Rouge?

Selling legend drugs can come with some serious consequences. To reduce or eliminate your legend drug charges, you’ll need to seek the help of a skilled lawyer.

I’ve only practiced criminal law for 19 years. I’ve defended thousands of clients in Baton Rouge and I work diligently to get the best deals for my clients.

Contact us today for a consultation.


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DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is not formal legal advice nor does it create an attorney-client relationship.

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