COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP/SCRN/WVOC) - A proposed law would make it a crime to possess prescription drugs illegally and would impose tough penalties for trafficking such drugs in South Carolina.

Lieutenant Governor Glenn McConnell says the measure addresses a growing problem that often means prescription medications are diverted from elderly residents.

We just need to make it clean, clear and simple so that violators will be prosecuted and that the seniors can be protected from the temptation that exists for others to rob them of their medicines and their painkillers that they need,” McConnell says.

Current drug trafficking laws impose penalties based on the weight of the drugs seized, but this 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.