Amazon is a one-stop portal for buying almost anything on the Internet, but you should be wary of using it to buy drugs. Despite the questions about legality, Amazon still hosts sellers which offer products which are unavailable without a prescription, or may be barred by the FDA.
So when is it illegal to buy drugs on Amazon?
As we've detailed before, you cannot purchase prescription drugs online without a legitimate prescription, and even then you're flirting with disaster. Not only can prescription drugs from online pharmacies be counterfeit, they may not come with the proper safety warnings and instructions or have unexpected side effects.
While Amazon may pride itself on hosting legitimate sellers, it is not liable for any issues you encounter with your online prescription meds. But as Slate's Ford Vox explains, it is easy for a lay user to stumble upon dangerous stimulants, steroids, and even acne creams which would normally require a doctor's prescription.
Purchasing controlled substances like oxycontin and vicodin anywhere online could get a shopper slapped with a federal felony indictment.
Vitamins and Supplements
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for cracking down on improper sales of regulated supplements, largely because many of them are as dangerous as unregulated drugs. The FDA has gone after websites which sell fitness and muscle building supplements like Bodybuilding.com but it has yet to go after Amazon.
Individual Amazon users are unlikely to know which supplements or vitamins are considered illegal for sale in the U.S., and federal regulators are unlikely to prosecute individuals who unwittingly purchase something illegal.
OTC Drugs and Cosmetics
Almost anything you can legally buy without a prescription at a drug store (i.e. "over the counter") you can purchase legally on Amazon. In fact, you can even purchase Sudafed and other drugs which can be used as precursors for manufacturing methamphetamines. However, federal law limits customers to nine grams of these drugs per month.
However, you can legally buy tons of generic Advil on Amazon for about four cents a pill.
So while it may be legal to buy drugs on Amazon, be aware of the legal pitfalls. And don't try to resell your pills on Amazon; there's a better and legal way to dispose of them.
- The (Unintentional) Amazon Guide to Dealing Drugs (The Atlantic)
- Is 'Fake Pot' (aka K2 or Spice) Illegal? (FindLaw's Blotter)
- What is a Bitcoin? Drug Dealers Taking Advantage of 'Legal Gray Area' (FindLaw's Technologist)
- Didn't Know Cocaine Was Illegal? That's No Excuse (FindLaw's Legally Weird)