Criminal Defense Attorney Analysis of Internet Pharmacy, Prescription, and Drug Law

Pre Ryan Haight Act Internet Pharmacy Law and Criminal Defense

The fact that the DEA can still say with a straight face that internet pharmacy online consultation services under federal law are illegal prior to the effective date of the Ryan Haight Act simply amazes me.  Of course, when individuals are pleading guilty right and left, what they believe really doesn’t matter.  Both prior to and right after the passing of the Ryan Haight Act, when discussing the need for the amendment, Congressional reports or officials routinely made one of two statements:

  1. The Ryan Haight Act was needed to fill a gap in existing legislation; or
  2. The Ryan Haight Act was needed, because the current law was unclear.

As I have mentioned numerous times, either argument necessitates acquittal in pre Ryan Haight Act indictments/prosecutions of all involved in internet pharmacy online consultations business models that require medical records (e.g. doctors, business owners, pharmacists, etc.).  The first quote admits online consultation services are legal prior to the Act’s effective date next year.  The second states that The Controlled Substances Act makes them currently illegal, but acknowledges that it is so vague as to necessitate additional and clearer legislation.  If it was unclear for Congress, it certainly is unclear for everyone else.  In the past, I posted such quotes as I came across them.  Below, however, I attempted to compile some of the better quotes:

  • From Sen. Dianne Feinstein (WSJ – 10/9/2008):  “This is really making explicit what has been implicit.  We’ve tried to close this loophole by essentially addressing this problem of controlled substances being sold without any medical oversight or prescription.”
  • Congressional Budget Office:  “H.R. 6353 would establish new crimes and increase penalties for activities relating to illegal use of controlled substances.”  (emphasis added)
  • Sen. Patrick Leahy: “Successful prosecutions depend on whether the investigators and lawyers charged with protecting the public from crime have the right tools to do so.  That is why we are in urgent need of this bill.  No matter how dedicated we are to solving a problem, if the laws are not clearly and sensibly drafted, no justice will be done.”
  • Congressional Research Service:  “Some rogue sites operate in a legal gray area in which the online pharmacy, as mandated by federal law, requires a prescription before dispensing prescription drugs but allows patients to secure a prescription by completing an online questionnaire that is reviewed by a doctor who never examines or speaks to the patient.”

It looks pretty obvious to me.

The content on this post does not constitute legal advice and is for informational purposes only.  You should not act upon the information presented on this website without seeking the advice of legal counsel.  Should you wish to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney knowledgeable in internet pharmacy, prescription, and drug law, please feel free to contact me directly.

Category: Internet Pharmacy Law