Codeine, like other prescription drugs, has a tricky relationship with California criminal drug laws.
On the one hand, codeine is a commonly-prescribed painkiller. On the other hand, codeine is a “Schedule II” controlled substance whose use and possession are regulated under:
- HS 11350 California’s “possession of a controlled substance” law,
- HS 11550 California’s “under the influence of a controlled substance” law, and
- VC 23152(e) California’s “driving under the influence of drugs” law.
For the most part, you are not guilty of violating these California codeine laws if you were used or possessed codeine in accordance with a valid prescription. BUT there are some important caveats to this.
First, you really must possess or use the codeine strictly as provided in your valid prescription. So you may still be subject to codeine charges if you:
- Possess or use codeine that has been prescribed to someone else,
- Are under the influence of or possess more codeine than has been prescribed to you, or
- Possess or use codeine under a prescription that you obtained through prescription fraud or doctor shopping.
Second, you can be convicted of driving under the influence of codeine even if you used codeine only in accordance with a valid prescription.
Finally, if you intend to sell codeine obtained through a prescription, you can be charged with:
- HS 11351 California’s “possession for sale of a controlled substance” law, or
- HS 11352 California’s “transportation or sale of a controlled substance” law,
These rules apply not only to codeine, but also to other prescription drugs that are commonly abused in California–such as hydrocodone/Vicodin.