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      McConnell proposes tougher prescription drug laws

      <font size="2">McConnell says the legislation will also address the concerns of the state's older residents who could suffer medical problems if they are deprived of their medications.</font>
      COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- A new law proposed in Columbia would make it a crime to possess prescription drugs illegally and impose tough penalties for prescription drug trafficking in South Carolina.

      Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell told reporters at the Statehouse on Thursday the measure addresses a growing trafficking problem that often means medications are diverted from elderly residents who need them.

      Current drug trafficking laws impose penalties based on the weight of the drugs seized. The proposal would base penalties on the number of pills.

      For instance, someone convicted of illegally having 600 or more prescription pills would be sentenced to at least 15 years in prison and fined at least $200,000.

      The law also would make it illegal to have multiple prescriptions for the same drug.