Prescription Drugs

Reporter’s Notes

“Dispensing.”  The word “dispense” is defined under 18 V.S.A. § 4201(7) to include “distribute, leave with, give away, dispose of, or deliver.”  It is the committee’s understanding that “dispensing” a regulated drug necessarily involves a transfer to another individual.  One who disposes of regulated drugs by flushing them down the toilet is not thereby guilty of dispensing.  While it may be a crime to possess the drug, it is not a crime to dispossess oneself of cocaine so long as the dispossession does not involve selling or dispensing.  State v. Harris, 152 Vt. 507, 509 (1989).

Depressant, Stimulant, or Narcotic Drugs.  The statute prohibits possession, selling, or dispensing a depressant, stimulant or narcotic drug, other than heroin or cocaine.  There are lengthy statutory definitions for “depressant or stimulant drug” under 18 V.S.A. § 4201(6), and for “narcotic drug” under § 4201(16).  The model instructions provide a choice of how to instruct on whether the charged substance fits into the statutory definitions.  The State must prove to the jury that the defendant possessed the substance that is charged.  In some cases the court will decide whether the charged substance is one that is regulated by the statutes.  This determination is best done by stipulation.  If there is a real question about the issue, the model instructions allow for reading the statutory definition to the jury, and letting the jury decide whether or not the charged substances falls within the statute.