NYS Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. recently joined with his Senate colleagues to pass a package of legislation to combat the deadly opioid epidemic by better protecting children from dangerous substances, criminalizing new synthetic narcotics, increasing penalties for the sale and possession of a variety of opioid drugs, and providing more oversight over written prescriptions.
“The heroin and opioid abuse epidemic continues to spiral across New York State and the nation, leading to needless deaths, broken families, and an ever growing burden on our medical system,” said Addabbo. “It’s a battle we need to fight on any number of fronts, whether it’s criminalizing new and deadly substances, or raising penalties for the sale of opioids on the grounds of alcohol or drug treatment facilities. We need to be both tough and smart.”
The legislation supported by Addabbo to fight the heroin and opioid crisis would:
-- Significantly increase potential prison sentences for the sale of a controlled substance to a child under 14 by a person over the age of 18. The crime would be raised from a B felony to the more serious A-II felony (S.3845);
-- Prohibit a healthcare practitioner from prescribing more than a seven day supply of a drug containing an opioid to a minor. It also requires the prescriber to assess whether the patient has ever suffered, or is suffering, from a substance abuse disorder; to discuss the risks of addiction and overdose, and to obtain written consent from the child’s parent or guardian (S.5949);
-- Require hospital and emergency room physicians to notify a patient’s medication prescriber when the person is being treated for a controlled substance overdose, and to consult the state’s prescription drug monitoring program registry to determine any existing prescriptions issued for the patient (S.2639);
-- Criminalize the sale of Carfentanil, a dangerous synthetic opioid said to be 10 times more deadly than fentanyl. Depending on the amount of the drug sale, offenders could spend 10 to 20 years in prison for a first offense (S.623);
-- Designate the synthetic drug alpha-PVP and all of its components as a schedule 1 stimulant controlled substance, making it illegal in New York State. Also known as “Flakka,” the drug is similar to “bath salts” and methamphetamine that have been banned in New York in recent years (S.816);
-- Create a presumption that a person possessing 50 or more packages of heroin with an aggregate value of more than $300 intends to sell it and will be subject to punishment under applicable state laws governing drug sales (S.638);
-- Increase penalties for the sale of drugs containing heroin (S.880);
-- Combat the abuse and the growing black market sale of prescription medication by further cracking down on those who write fake prescriptions and on those who possess drugs that were not legally prescribed to them (S.2814); and
-- Make it a Class B Felony, punishable by up to nine years in prison for a first offense, to illegally sell controlled substances on the grounds of alcohol and drug treatment centers (S.1127).
“We need every weapon in our arsenal to fight back against the horrible criminal and public health scourge of heroin and opioid abuse,” said Addabbo. “Higher penalties and even more stringent drug monitoring may be part of the overall solution.”
Now that the bills have passed the Senate, they have been sent to the State Assembly for consideration.