The Kentucky Senate voted unanimously yesterday to toughen penalties on heroin traffickers and provide more money for the treatment of addicts, reports the Cincinnati Enquirer. “Overdoses have become a daily occurrence in Northern Kentucky,” said Senate President Pro Tem Katie Stine. “Heroin has overwhelmed our court system, jails and social service networks.” One family said no long-term treatment beds were available in Northern Kentucky for their addicted son. Campbell County District Court Judge Karen Thomas told legislators most crime in Northern Kentucky has roots in heroin. “It is a true crisis in my area,” she said. “The heroin epidemic in Northern Kentucky hits not only the felony cases, but the misdemeanor cases. We have more thefts, we have more paraphernalia charges. We have more robberies, more burglaries, and these are almost always related to heroin use.”
The proposed law would deal with both the law enforcement and medical side of heroin abuse. It would allow prosecutors to charge a drug trafficker with homicide in overdose deaths, require anyone trafficking more than 4 grams of heroin to serve at least 50 percent of the sentence, allocate more money to substance abuse treatment through the Kentucky Agency for Substance Abuse Policy, allow first responders and people close to heroin addicts to administer the life-saving drug Naloxone to overdose victims, and grant limited immunity to good Samaritans who seek medical care for overdose victims.