As the abuse of opioid painkillers and heroin continue to rise, overdoses have reached the highest levels in American history. While law enforcement agencies are becoming more treatment-focused towards addicts, they are cracking down on drug dealers and distributors.
Charges Get Serious
In numerous states drug dealers are beginning to not only be charged with distribution or possession, but now, murder. New York, Ohio and Virginia have all proposed bills requesting that drug-overdose deaths be filed as murder charges. However, some may argue that law enforcement charging those dealers with murder goes against their new methods of trying to offer treatment rather than jail time. In addition, if the person who dealt or gave the individual the drug calls in the report of the overdose, by convicting them they are going against many state’s Good Samaritan laws, where those who report overdoses are protected.
Going to the Source
Some people see the distribution of the opioid-based substances as nothing more than that, just the selling of drugs. However, when you are knowingly selling substances that can lead to someone dying, others can begin to see it very differently. Liability further increases if the dealer is knowingly selling substances that contain fentanyl, which is more likely to result in death by overdose than anything else. That said, prosecutors have begun charging whomever was the last one to sell to the individual before their death, regardless of what their relation to them may be.
Is This Tactic Effective?
The overall goal of these new legalities is to reduce or put an end to not only the distribution of opioid-based substances, but to reduce overdoses and drug-related tragedies as well. However, as we have seen in the past, “Get Tough” laws (as they are presenting these new drug-overdose murder charges) might not be the way to do it. All past attempts have shown that harsh punishment does nothing at all to deter or reduce the recidivism of people using. For a number of these individuals, continued use is more than likely because they are struggling addicts. Because of this, many people are calling for a reform in United States drug policy, and from what we can tell, that new reform is drug treatment. As Michael Botticelli, the leader of the federal office on the war of drugs, stated “We cannot arrest and incarcerate addiction out of people.” This is why his department has suggested increasing the spending that goes towards drug treatment rather than using the money on placing them in prison.
If you or someone you know has a problem with drugs or alcohol, don’t wait until it’s too late. Call the treatment professionals at Serenity Acres today for your free confidential assessment, 1-800-203-2024.