Sharing Prescriptions: Don’t Do It in CO

Many people in Colorado are given prescription medication to treat a variety of conditions. When you have a valid prescription for a medication, then that means you have the legal right to possess it in the state.

However, while you have the right to keep certain medications on your person as you go about your day, having a valid prescription doesn’t make it legal to share your medications with anyone else – even a friend or family member you’re simply trying to help.

So, you can’t share your Xanax with someone you know who may be going through a rough patch just to be nice, because, in the eyes of the law, you’re breaking it. And you can suffer the consequences for that breach.

Here is what you need to know about sharing your prescriptions in Colorado and the type of legal trouble it can create.

Sharing Prescriptions: Is It Illegal in Colorado?

While Colorado has made some changes to its drug laws over the years, it is still illegal to share a medication of any kind obtained through a prescription with another person. Even giving someone a single pill is breaking the law and committing a crime in the state. The reason the law is so stringent is to try to cut down on the sharing of prescription opioid medications and controlled substances.

Unlawful Distribution in Colorado

Providing someone you know with even one pill from a bottle of prescription medication is considered the crime of unlawful distribution or unlawful dispensing of a controlled substance in the state. If you are arrested and charged with this crime, you can face these types of charges depending on how much of the substance was provided and what substance it was:

Level 1 Drug Felony

Providing another person with 225 grams or more of a Schedule I or II controlled substance is a level 1 drug felony.

Unlawful Distribution in Colorado


Level 2 Drug Felony

Providing someone with 14 grams or more of a Schedule I or II controlled substance, or seven grams of drugs that include methamphetamines, heroin, or ketamine is a Level 2 drug felony.

Level 3 Drug Felony

Providing 14 grams or less of a substance from Schedule I or II is considered a Level 3 drug felony. Also, providing four grams or more of a substance from Schedule III or IV will fall under this level of crime.

For medications that can be purchased over the counter and are on Schedule V, you may only face misdemeanor charges.

What Are Drug Schedules?

Drug schedules are a list provided by the federal government that places drugs into different schedules based on their accepted medical use and probability of addiction and abuse.

The higher the schedule, the more serious the penalty. The schedules are:

Schedule I

This is the schedule for drugs with the highest probability of addiction but no accepted medical use, such as hallucinogens and heroin.

Schedule II

These drugs have some accepted medical use but still pose a high threat for addiction and abuse. You can find drugs such as opium and morphine on this schedule.

Schedule III

The drugs found on this schedule have a high rate of addiction, as well, but are quite commonly used in medical treatments. Drugs such as ketamine and Suboxone are on this schedule.

Schedule IV

The drugs on this schedule are not as highly addictive as others, but still require proper monitoring by a medical professional for use. Drugs on this schedule include Xanax, Ativan, and Valium.

Schedule V

The drugs on this schedule are usually available over the counter, but some do still need a prescription. Cough medications with codeine and other drugs such as Phenergan are on this schedule.

Denver Prescription Drug Charges Lawyer


Unlawful Distribution Penalties

The unlawful distribution of controlled substances can be charged by prosecutors if you provide anyone else with drugs from your prescription. Your penalty will depend on the level of drug offense of which you are found guilty, which includes:

Level 1 Drug Felony

If found guilty of this level of felony, you can face up to 32 years behind bars. You may also be required to pay fines of as much as $1 million.

Level 2 Drug Felony

A level 2 drug felony can result in up to eight years in prison and fines of as much as $750,000.

Level 3 Drug Felony

You can be sentenced to up to four years in prison for this level of a drug felony and be required to pay fines of as much as $500,000.

Level 1 Misdemeanor

If found guilty of a misdemeanor, you can still face up to 18 months in jail and fines of amounts up to $5,000.

About the Author:

Denver-based criminal defense and DUI attorney Jacob E. Martinez is a knowledgeable and experienced litigator with a record of success providing innovative solutions to clients facing criminal charges of any severity. Mr. Martinez has been recognized by countless legal organizations for his exemplary defense work, including Avvo, Best DWI Attorneys, Expertise, Lawyers of Distinction, The National Trial Lawyers, and others. He was also named one of the 10 Best in Client Satisfaction in Colorado by the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys for 2020, and is Lead Counsel rated.