Good Question: Can you take back illegal drugs?

January 21, 2019 06:45 AM

A new state law requires all pharmacies to take back and dispose of all unused prescription drugs. But do they also take back illegal drugs you may find on the street or in your home? Can you get in trouble for turning those drugs in?

Pat Taney was asked about that for this week's Good Question report.


It's called the Drug Take Back Act and it went into effect in New York State earlier this month. But as we found out, there are exceptions and there is one big warning you need to hear.

From Wegmans to CVS, wherever you pick up drugs, you can now drop off drugs you no longer need.

"This allows people to bring prescription medicines back to the pharmacy where they got them or any pharmacy that provides prescription medicines," Gates Police Lt. Robert Long said.

When it comes to non-prescribed drugs, like cocaine or heroin, Long says it's clear.

"I would not recommend taking them to your pharmacy," he said.

For a number of reasons. First, pharmacies aren't equipped to handle street drugs. You also have to keep in mind transporting these drugs when dropping them off could get you into trouble.

"God forbid, on the way there, you got stopped for a traffic violation," Long said. "It would be hard to explain why you're in possession of heroin or some sort of illegal drug."

So what do you do? Simply call police and then the Good Samaritan Act takes over.

"If you find drugs on the street or your child or family member has some sort of illegal drugs in the house we will come and secure them," Long said. 

Taney: Would the person face charges for having the drugs in their home?

Long: Under that Good Samaritan Act, if it falls under that, you would not face any charges. Whether or not that there's something else with that person-- the user-- we'd have to look at that in a case by case basis.

In most cases, police will secure the drugs, properly dispose of them and can even offer more help.

"We will help you out, get the family member for treatment and we will dispose of the substance for you and you won't face any charges," Long said.

The same rules apply for those drug drop off boxes you may see at police stations. Those too, are only for unused prescription household drugs.

If you have a question you'd like answered, send Pat an email to


Pat Taney

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