Millions of Florida residents use drugs of some kind. In some cases, they’re taking legally prescribed pharmaceuticals, while in others they’re using illegally obtained drugs. Some are daily users, others far more occasional.
While on the surface the concepts of drug abuse and illegal drug use seem simple, the specifics of drug charges can quickly become more complicated. As such, it’s important to understand certain distinctions in the area of the law and drug use.
What makes drug use illegal?
On a high level, this is an easy question to answer: It’s illegal to use a drug you’re forbidden by the law to possess. But this isn’t quite as clear a distinction as it might seem.
To begin with, many drugs are legal for some people to possess in certain circumstances but not others. One good example of this is marijuana/cannabis in states that permit medical marijuana usage. Only if you’ve got a medical license can you legally use marijuana, otherwise you’re illegally using it.
The same is true with many prescription drugs, especially painkillers like OxyContin or Percocet. While it’s 100% legal to use these drugs as prescribed by a physician, possessing or using these drugs is illegal without one.
Certain drugs (heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine are three prominent examples) are illegal for everyone with no exceptions.
Drug abuse vs. illegal drug use
It’s worth pointing out the distinction between drug abuse and illegal drug use. In many cases, these concepts overlap, as a person abusing an illegal drug is doing both.
But in many cases, a person might be classified as abusing drugs even though the drugs they’re using are legal. Examples might be someone abusing a legal drug like alcohol, or someone maintaining a painkiller prescription after they’re no longer in any medical distress.
Simple at first glance, there are several crucial distinctions when it comes to illegal drug use. The key point is whether you’re legally permitted to possess that drug, which can sometimes be tricky to determine.