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Investigators of drug crimes may get instant access to database

The rise in prescription drug abuse has caused lawmakers across the United States to take action. In North Carolina, state legislators recently passed a bill that would give law enforcement personnel access to prescription drug records without a warrant. If approved by the governor, the bill could mean an increase in charges related drug crimes, fraud and prescription drug abuse.

Currently investigators require a warrant to access the Controlled Substance Reporting System, a database that tracks the drugs doctors have prescribed. The database contains information about the medications prescribed as well as the amounts. Opponents of the new law say that this unfettered access to medical records could encroach on people's privacy. Supporters say that, while privacy is a concern, steps need to be taken to tackle opioid abuse.

One police chief in the state, located in High Point, says if the bill is passed steps will need be taken to ensure that officers only look up individuals if needed for an investigation. Specifically, searches should only take place when necessary to detect fraud. According to the chief, any officer caught abusing the system may face arrest and felony charges.

The group sponsoring the bill has promised to donate $10 million to treatment of opioid addiction if the bill becomes law. The bill, known as the Hope Act, is currently heading to Governor Roy Cooper for approval. Those who face charges for drug crimes related to prescription drugs in North Carolina may have information from the Controlled Substance Reporting System presented in their case. To understand this evidence and possible defense options, those facing such charges should contact an attorney.

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