Carrying your medications around in a substitute container

A unanimous appellate panel in New York has ruled that Sephronia Bravo, 39, of the Bronx, is allowed to sue police after being “arrested [at a bus stop] for not having her prescribed medications in their original containers”:

Bravo said she refused to give consent, but the officers searched her purse anyway and found a single bottle containing her daily regimen of prescription medications and vitamins. …She was told she was being arrested for violating Public Health Law §3345, which prohibits possessing prescription medication “outside of the original container in which it was dispensed,” except for “current use.” …No illegal drugs were found and all charges were dropped at her first court appearance.

Police “later claimed they had seen her [at the bus stop] ‘exchanging small objects with another individual.” [New York Law Journal via author Benjamin Bedell, who adds, “Is there any normal day in which you could NOT be arrested for something?”] Earlier on legal hazards of seven-day pill boxes and the like.


  • This is a another example of how out law enforcement guidelines fly in the face of our everyday practice. Every drug store in America sells pill holders in which traveling citizens carry their everyday medications.

    Police are trained in the identification of illegal substances and counterfeit drugs. Everyone knows that pills are carried around by citizens outside their original containers. The rub seems to be that the police want to have the option of arresting people they think rate “dirty.” Well, that’s no longer reasonable.

    • Note: this restriction is about prescription medications only, not OTC drugs. It’s not about safety, and it’s not primarily about the police being able to identify the drugs, it’s about the police being able to verify that you have a valid prescription for a controlled substance.

      P.S. I agree that the rule is a bit silly.

  • “Exchanging small objects with another individual”? Is this like all the butterfingers who used to drop marijuana in the 1960s?


  • This is about making common practices illegal. It’s not only ridiculous, but it also erodes our freedoms. When the law is made complex or petty enough to allow for the arrest of people who are doing nothing to harm other people, then we need to rethink the law.