A bill introduced recently in Congress, would make the death penalty a possibility for those who sell heroin with fentanyl in it, reported The Star-Gazette. The bill is a draconian response to a complicated issue, and will serve only to make the current crisis worse.
The irony of the bill’s name, the HELP Act, is that those in need of help because of overdoses will be less likely to receive it if such legislation is passed. Currently, 37 states and Washington, D.C., have Good Samaritan laws. These laws give immunity from arrest to those who call 911 when a fellow drug user has overdosed. Replacing immunity with the prospect of the death penalty will mean drug users will no longer call emergency services when there is an overdose, thus increasing the number of fatalities. Only drug users will be hurt by this legislation.
Many involved in selling drugs at the street level are also users who have no involvement in actually making the drug; they’re simply the middleman. Fentanyl is introduced into the U.S. supply long before street-level sellers touch it. Giving the death penalty to street-level sellers for fentanyl is severely misguided, and will have no impact on the drug trade.
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