On Tuesday night, the Kentucky General Assembly voted to enact legislation
designed to fight the growing heroin epidemic. The bill, known as Senate
Bill 192, is designed to perform two critical functions. The first is
to send a clear message that
selling and distributing heroin will not be tolerated and the second intends to help treat those struggling
with addiction. In addition, $10 million has been set aside to facilitate
the implementation of the bill.
While some people may feel the money could be better spent elsewhere, the
heroin epidemic has become such a problem that it is forcing the state
to take action. Over the past 5 years, heroin related deaths have risen
dramatically. This directly correlates to the workload within the Kentucky
State Police crime lab, which reflects a 400 percent increase.
A recent study shows roughly 1 in 10 Kentuckians intimately knows someone
who is struggling with heroin addiction. In order to assist those with
addiction, the bill calls for immunity to any drug user who reports an
overdose. In addition, the bill demands an increase in the use of Naloxone
(which helps reverse the effects of overdoses) and Vivitrol (which helps
wean users off of heroin), greater needle-exchange programs, and more
money to fund substance abuse programs.
While the bill is clearly aimed at aiding addicts, it also aims to punish
heroin dealers more severely. The selling of two grams of heroin will
now be a Class “C” felony which calls for a sentence of 5-10
years. This will also apply to anyone caught smuggling the drug into the
state. Anyone who is arrested for selling more than 100 grams will face
a Class “B” felony, which carries a sentence of 10-20 years.
While this bill is only the starting point on a long road to recovery for
many, it can be seen as a culture shift in how our system assists drugs
addicts. With an epidemic of this magnitude, the answer is not found in
harsher penalties. Instead, it is found by creating a system and foundation
that promotes healing and recovery through rehabilitation and counseling.
Rather than treat those suffering from heroin addiction like criminals
and continue to place them in our already overcrowded jails, Kentucky
has taken a progressive approach by attempting to provide assistance to
those in need.
If you or someone you know is struggling with drug addiction and as a result
of their struggles has been charged with a
drug crime, please
contact our criminal defense attorneys as soon as possible. At Bleile & Dawson, our legal team is extremely
knowledgeable in criminal law, defending clients throughout the State
of Ohio and the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
Call (513) 399-5945 today for a
completely confidential consultation.