Senator Bennet Proposes Tougher Prescription Drug Theft Penalties

Prescription drug theft is a becoming an epidemic in the United States. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration found that between 2006 and 2010, there was an 81 percent increase in drug thefts from pharmacies across the country. During that time, the number of pills stolen rose from 700,000 in 2006 to 1.3 million in 2010.

Now, U.S. Senator for Colorado Michael Bennet, along with senators from Arizona and New York, is making a bipartisan effort to increase penalties for those convicted of prescription drug theft. Named the Strengthening and Focusing Enforcement to Deter Organized Stealing and Enhanced Safety Act (SAFE DOSES Act), the legislation strengthens existing penalties both for stealing prescription drugs and relabeling and reselling stolen medications.

Currently, the laws that govern prescription drug theft are identical to those that govern the theft of consumer goods like CDs and small appliances, even though the repercussions of prescription drugs being out in the black market and used recreationally can have disastrous consequences. The drugs that are stolen most frequently are highly addictive narcotics like OxyContin and Roxicodone.

The SAFE DOSES Act seeks to increase potential jail time for those convicted of robbing pharmacies and increase the penalties for reselling stolen drugs, which would include relinquishing all profits made from the sale.

Colorado law also reflects the lack of specific prescription drug theft laws that exists at the federal level. In Colorado, prescription drug theft is covered by state laws against general theft with the intent to resell and general theft law. Penalties can range from a class 2 misdemeanor for theft of goods worth less than $500 to a class 3 felony for theft of goods worth more than $20,000.

Though still in its early stages, if passed the SAFE DOSES Act would allow law enforcement and the courts to come down hard on those convicted of prescription drug theft. If you or a loved one have been accused of a prescription drug crime, please contact an experienced criminal law attorney to help you understand current drug and theft laws and represent you in the event of arrest.