The news of today reported by the journalists of tomorrow

The Beacon

The news of today reported by the journalists of tomorrow

The Beacon

The news of today reported by the journalists of tomorrow

The Beacon

System places blame on heroin dealers not users

An influx of fatal heroin overdoses across the United States has law enforcement implementing an old law to help continue to fight the war on drugs by targeting street sellers.

Heroin is cheaper and easier to get than prescription drugs, making it a likely substance for abuse.

The 1987 “Strict Liability in Drug-Induced Deaths” law, originally passed to combat the “crack” cocaine epidemic in the late ’80s and early ’90s, has been dug up again to punish those who are involved with a heroin death.

Under this law, street sellers may find themselves pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter and drug-induced death amongst other charges for reckless endangerment or indifference, if there is a connection between the seller’s drugs and the death of their client.

Before strict liability laws were reinstated, law enforcement treated overdoses as accidents rather than criminal cases.

In the event of a death as a result of illegal drug sale, accountability becomes complicated and unclear. Is it fair to blame the seller for a death of a person who knowingly took the poison that they were offered?

What complicates the matter is that dealers often start selling drugs that they themselves are addicted to. What we have are addicts selling to addicts to support everyone’s drug habits.

While the user has personal responsibility for his or her own actions, the dealer is still selling illegal drugs, making them at fault as well. After all, they are knowingly selling a product that is known to kill. Addict or not, they take the risk knowing that they may be responsible for their own or someone else’s death.

In finding these single street sellers, law enforcement can attempt to trace back the drugs up through their supply chain. Treating overdoses as accidents excuses the supply chain from any crimes and suppresses the issue. Ruling out drug deaths as accidents does not stop further drug use and sales, but criminal charges might.

The murder may have not been premeditated or voluntary, but there was always a chance that the transaction from seller to buyer could result in death. Second and third degree charges carry lesser and more appropriate penalties, such as 15 year prison sentences, not death.

Heroin has been compared to alcohol and tobacco in terms of personal liability.

But when you buy alcohol and tobacco, you know what you’re buying. You know how much you can drink before you are incapacitated, and the warnings on your cigarettes tell you that they are harmful.

Heroin does not come with any FDA approvals. The drug is often cut or mixed in somebody’s kitchen, where nobody is really that concerned with the effects it may have on someone else.

Dealing with illegal drugs is always a gamble. What is fair or unfair in terms of charges and circumstances is bound to be reduced when illegal drugs are involved. It hardly matters what charges would have been brought on the victim if he or she were still alive and in the possession of illegal drugs. What matters now is that people are dying and someone needs to be faulted for the deaths. It is no accident that dealers are facilitating this dangerous trade from bored kids to sick addicts.

Theoretically, free will would solve all the world’s problems if we just “choose” to stop doing and selling drugs.

Sadly, free will does not and will not “undo” drug misconduct and disease.

About the Contributor
Carly Yamrus
Carly Yamrus, Opinion Editor
Carly is a senior Communications Studies major with concentrations in public relations and rhetoric and a minor in marketing. Carly has completed internships with Motor Media, a boutique branding and marketing company, and the City of Wilkes-Barre. This past summer, she worked for Verizon selling phone Internet and television services to businesses in North Jersey. Carly has had over 2 year experience writing and editing for The Beacon as the Opinion Editor, and has now stepped aside in her last semester to help others learn the position. She now serves as a Senior Editor. Carly also enjoys the arts, snowboarding and writing, and is looking forward to traveling and volunteering abroad in the future.