Category Archives: Nevada Legislature

Nevada Prescription Drug Abuse

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Nevada Prescription Drug Abuse

Prescription drug dependency and abuse has become a nationwide health epidemic claiming approximately 50 lives each day and over 16,000 lives each year. Compared to national averages:

  • Nevada ties as one of the top states in writing painkiller prescriptions
  • Nevadans consume over two times as many prescription drugs as any other state; and
  • Clark County has more deaths by drug overdose from prescription narcotics than by any other street drug

The ease of obtaining a prescription and the lack of transparency in prescription drug history are both to blame for the prescription drug abuse epidemic.

New Law SB288

Senate Bill No. 288 was created in an attempt to combat the rise in prescription drug abuse by monitoring prescription history. The Bill proposed that all authorized personnel who handle commercially manufactured prescription narcotics be granted access to a prescription drug database, and required to maintain access to this database by logging in at least twice a year.

It also granted the State Board of Pharmacy and the Investigation Division of the Department of Public Safety the authority to discipline those who failed to comply. These new requirements for those authorized to write and fill prescriptions would help support the National Drug Control Strategy. After months of revisions, Senate Bill 288 was passed and went into effect as NRS 453.1545 on January 1, 2016

NRS 453.1545  outlined the state’s computerized prescription monitoring program (PMP) requirements:

  1. Board of Pharmacy Registrants who prescribe controlled substances are required to register with the PMP
  2. Board of Pharmacy Registrants registered with the PMP are required to monitor the system and view
  3. Provision’s to NRS 453.1545 are enforceable by the occupational licensing boards within that state

The new law tightens regulations on doctors, pharmacist, and other medical personnel to ensure that they are using the prescription monitoring database to track drug prescriptions as well as flag cases of potential drug abuse.

Prescription Pill Offenses

Contrary to popular belief, charges for possession of a controlled substance (which includes prescription pills) is very serious offense in Nevada. Types of arrest for prescription pill offenses include:

  • doctor shopping
  • possession of a medication without proof of a prescription
  • illegal possession of medication; and
  • prescription fraud

Individuals charged with prescription pill fraud can result in:

  • a category C felony for doctor shopping punishable by a 1-5 year prison sentence and fined up to $10,000
  • First and Second convictions for illegal possession of prescriptions is punishable by a category E felony punishable by 1-4 year prison sentence
  • Three or more conviction for illegal possession of prescription pills can result in a category D felony punishable by a 1-4 year prison sentence and/or a fine up to $20,000

Additionally, doctors and medical personnel who are charged with prescription pill offenses in Nevada can be charged with a category C felony punishable by a1-5 year prison sentence and fined up to $10,000.

Conclusion

In the state of Nevada, drug crimes are not treated leniently, and penalties for the sale, use or possession of controlled substances can be harsh.

If you have been arrested and charged with prescription fraud, illegal possession of a prescription or doctor shopping in Clark County or the surrounding areas, contact the Law Office of Joel M. Mann to discuss your criminal charges.

Joel Mann is an experienced Las Vegas drug lawyer who will do everything in his power to help you achieve the most desirable outcome in your situation. Call (702) 474-6266 today for a free consultation about your alleged drug crime in Las Vegas.

Federal government threatens to withhold funds over Nevada DUI law

US Supreme Court

USA Today reports that Nevada is among 33 states that the federal government may attempt to withhold federal highway funds from in an effort to coerce the state into tougher laws against drunk driving. The national newspaper reports that the Federal Highway Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Transportation, has informed the state that it is in not in compliance, and the agency is holding funds in reserve until it completes a review.

It’s unclear whether the tactic will work. The amount being held is only $7.3 million of the funds the state would use for highway construction, which is really just a drop in the bucket when it comes to state and federal spending. The state of Montana, for example, responded that the $8.8 million the feds were attempting to withhold wasn’t enough to warrant the state changing its laws. However, during these lean times, it’s difficult to predict what state government officials will do for a little bit of revenue.

The federal government cites its authority to engage in this tactic from the 1987 U.S. Supreme Court case South Dakota v. Dole. Congress had passed a law stating that the national drinking age was 21 years old. If the state did not enforce the law, the federal government would withhold 10 percent of federal transportation funds. South Dakota had a drinking age of 19, and disputed the law. The Court ruled that if the amount being withheld is insufficient to be coercive, the ability to create such laws is under Congress’s spending power.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, which sets drunk driving policy, has held up Virginia as a recent model for DUI penalties. The state passed laws last year requiring all first-time DUI offenders to installed ignition interlock devices on their vehicles. This is tougher than Nevada law. If convicted for a first DUI offense in Las Vegas, you may be required to have an interlock device installed, but it’s up to the discretion of the court.

As a Las Vegas drunk driving lawyer, I do not believe that one-size-fits-all penalties are conducive to justice. Each case has nuances that warrant a different approach. Also, if you take away my ability to negotiation a sentence with prosecutors by handing down mandatory sentences, it takes away any incentive to not take every case to trial. There will be far fewer plea bargains if you take away prosecutors’ bargaining power.

Nevada should carefully consider whether it’s worth it to give away state autonomy over a relatively low amount of money.

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