Law enforcement officers in North Carolina can access prescription records without a warrant following the passage of a bill targeting opioid abuse in late June.
Governor Roy Cooper signed the HOPE (Heroin and Opioid Prevention and Enforcement) Act, which is intended to target opioid addiction and manufacturing, into law on June 22. The act includes a provision to allow law enforcement officers to receive copies of prescription records from pharmacies and records from the North Carolina Controlled Substance Reporting System during an official drug crime investigation without obtaining a court order. State law previously required a warrant for access to prescription records.
The ACLU of North Carolina issued a statement calling the bill a threat to personal privacy.
“The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects all of us against unreasonable searches and seizures, and courts in many circumstances have agreed that the way you protect that is by requiring a warrant,” North Carolina ACLU spokesperson Mike Meno said.
NC Representative Robert T. Reives, D-Chatham, proposed an amendment to the bill that would require law enforcement officers to obtain a court order issued by a superior court judge, district court judge or magistrate, but with no need for probable cause. The amendment failed.