Murder charges for opioid dealers in Pennsylvania? Why not?

There are 20 states that now have so-called “drug-induced homicide” laws that carry the same sentences as murder and manslaughter when someone dies from opioids dealt to them.

Pennsylvania should become number 21, in our view.

In the past year in Pennsylvania, there have been 19,000 emergency room admissions for suspected opioid overdoses.

A lot of those emergency room visits ended with someone dying from these dangerous drugs illegally sold to them.

It’s all well and good to have an information sharing system that 1,000 Pennsylvania police departments and other agencies are using to aid in investigations into people who are dealing in heroin and fentanyl.

The next step is doing something that deters the drug sales themselves. The answer is punishment that gets the dealers off the streets, perhaps for life, as is the case in many states.

The parent of a 29-year-old son who recently died from an overdose created by fentanyl-laced pills recommended a three-to-five-year sentence for a first offense by dealers, with a murder charge for a second offense.

That seems almost lenient when you consider a death is involved.

After all, if a gun or some other violence is involved in a murder, no one blinks at the possibility of a life sentence. How are these drug sales with a product known to produce death any different?

The state also needs to get tougher with doctors who are writing seemingly permanent prescriptions for opioids without an ongoing evaluation of the patient they are caring for. This is little more than glorified drug pushing. We know it is going on from the post-mortem tales of families who have lost loved ones over something that started with an injury or mental situation that required a prescription but turned into an addiction.

In these cases, medical authorities need to get involved and work with police on enforcement against doctors who are not living up to their creed.

Information is great, but the opioid crisis won’t be solved without an escalation in punishments for the drivers of the epidemic.

COMMENTS