North Carolina Senate votes to classify the last person to supply someone with drugs before overdose as 'drug dealer'
Some amendments were added to the bill before it was cleared in the senate and one of them included the definition of "distributor" as someone who both sells and delivers drugs.
The North Carolina State Senate has voted to pass a bill that would classify the last person to supply someone with drugs before an overdose as a "drug dealers."
According to Virgil Hayes, the manager for North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition Advocacy and Program, the bill was passed in the state senate on April 10, and now the state house is set to vote on the bill.
Some amendments were added to the bill before it was cleared in the senate and one of them included the definition of "distributor" as someone who both sells and delivers drugs. However, the bill has raised some questions on whether someone who sells drugs but not delivers them can face charges, Hayes said. He added that he has been informed that the bill intends to target drug trafficker, but he is not certain if the legislation would be able to do that in its current draft, The East Carolinian reported.
“Are we really taking into account the complexity of drug distribution? Right, because drug distribution and the black market that really filters a lot of these drugs is not black and white. If it was that simple we would’ve solved the drug and overdose crisis years ago,” Hayes said.
He added that Death by Distribution laws have been passed in 20 other states in the country. Hayes also said that the state of Pennsylvania has drug-induced homicide laws and they are ranked fifth in the US for drug overdose deaths. He also mentioned West Virginia which has every stringent penalty and drug laws, and despite that, they are still combating high rates of drug overdose and consumption.
Hayes said that there are laws already present in North Carolina which target drug traffickers and that the passing this new law could bring in more troubles than solving them.
“It’s added to the long list of laws in the history of drug policy that are aimed at treating and addressing the supply but no one has done enough to deal with the demand because at the end of the day if there is no demand, then there is no market,” he added.
The Founder of ekiM for Change, Diannee Carden Glenn, said that the new bill will not affect actual drug dealers but will impact those people who are struggling with drug addiction.
“The problem with the bill is what is the definition of dealer. It's written in such a way so that if I were to purchase something and you came over and I shared it with you and you overdosed and died, then they consider me a dealer,” Glenn said.
He added that the passing of House Bill 474 will negate the presence of the Good Samaritan Law and will affect those who need immediate medical attention after an overdose.
"People will stop calling 911 for fear of being arrested and that will have a huge effect on the number of folks who actually have their overdoses reversed and get a second chance at life and make other changes in their life and the way they conduct their life,” Glenn said.