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Pill Bottles and You

My lovely daughter Alden is quite a young lady. Last week, she volunteered at a local school at an event for special needs children. As a parting gift, she received a nice water bottle from the “Georgia Department of Public Health.” She gave it to me, knowing I need to drink more water. What was especially noteworthy about this water bottle is that it has a pill sleeve attached to it, while being endorsed by the “Georgia Department of Public Health.”

Georgia has a bevy of laws on possession of drugs, because drugs are bad things. Unless of course, drugs are helping save your life, in which case, drugs are good things. Better living through chemistry is the mantra of the pharmaceutical industry. Me, I’ve had to take some “controlled substances” lately for a little medical condition, and that got me to thinking about this water bottle. You see, liberty and pills are opposed to one another. So says the Georgia Legislature when they decided to make virtually every medication a “controlled substance.” OCGA 16-13-25 includes 187 drugs in Schedule I, 57 in Schedule II, 63 in Schedule III, about 58 in Schedule IV (there are some drugs in there that are derivatives of derivatives), and only about 6 in Schedule V (including Pseudoephedrine, which is in every home in America just about).

All those medicines are designed to include just about everything except sugar pills. Because we don’t want you getting those drugs except by a licensed physician, because you might hurt yourself. Liberty comes with restrictions, especially when there is money to be made by the pharma industry. No pseudoephedrine for you without you giving us your driver’s license (or state issued ID) so we can add you to a government database. See, some idiot might make meth from the pseudoephedrine on the store shelves, so we make all citizens give us their identity and pill preferences for a government database. Surely that makes you safer.

Back to the water bottle. The pill compartment on the side can only contain sugar pills and maybe an aspirin. Because if you put any controlled substance in it (like pseudoephedrine), you are breaking the law. Georgia has a law, OCGA § 16-13-75 that is titled: “Drugs to be kept in original container; exception.” The law says: “(a)  Possession and control of controlled substances or dangerous drugs by anyone other than the individuals specified in Code Section 16-13-35 or 16-13-72 shall be legal only if such drugs are in the original container in which they were dispensed by the pharmacist or the practitioner of the healing arts and are labeled according to Code Section 26-3-8.” Oh, the exception isn’t that you are a little old lady and need to keep your pills in a easy to open, daily pill minder. The exception is “The possession, filling, and use of canisters for remote automated medication systems pursuant to subsection (i) of Code Section 16-13-41 shall not be considered a violation of this Code section.” What that means, I don’t know, but it’s not a little old lady exception.

Now, to be fair, most prosecutors will dismiss this charge on the little old lady with the pill minder water bottle after she has been arrested, booked, bonded and hired an attorney, who then shows the prosecutor a valid prescription for the medicine. Because liberty demands that little old ladies not go to prison for such an offense? No, because no prosecutor has the guts to present that case to a jury.

Now I’m not a little old lady, but I have a water bottle with pill minder endorsed by the “Georgia Department of Public Health.” Can I keep my prescribed medication in the bottle’s handy daily pockets?

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