New York State Senator George Amedore Jr., the co-Chair of the Senate Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction recently announced the passage of Laree’s Law.
This law would give law enforcement officials the ability to charge drug dealers with homicide if a customer dies as the result of an overdose on heroin or an opiate-controlled substance sold to them by that dealer.
The law (S.2761) carries a penalty of 15-25 years and was passed by the Senate on Wednesday, March 21 and has been sent to the Assembly. The Assembly version of the law (A.03398) is sponsored by state assemblyman Michael DenDekker, D-East Elmhurst and has been referred to the codes committee as of January 2018.
Laree’s Law is named after teenager Laree Farrell Lincoln of Colonie, New York who died of a heroin overdose in 2013.
According to New York State’s 2017 Opioid Annual Report the number of opioid related deaths per 100,000 of the population doubled between 2010 and 2015. In Ulster County, there were a total of 27 deaths as a result of opioid overdoses in 2015 and 107 outpatient emergency department visits as result of opioid overdoses in 2016.
New Paltz Village mayor Tim Rogers said that he is interested in creating a resolution to formerly ask the state comptroller’s office to take a closer look at the opioid epidemic and what could be done differently from large pharmaceutical manufacturers.
“I think a multi-pronged approach makes sense in that you want to do some divestment, but you also want to do some activist-type shareholder investment… using the influence and the magnitude of the several billions of dollars that we have through our state pension fund through investments in large pharmaceutical companies,” he said.
Laree’s Law targets mid to high level drug dealers who profit from heroin sales. In 2011, New York State adopted a “Good Samaritan” law to shield individuals from charges related to an overdose if the individual attempts to help someone who is overdosing and reports the incident in a timely matter; Laree’s Law includes a similar “co-user” carve out.
“New York State has established itself as a leader when it comes to increasing prevention and education efforts, making treatment more accessible in every community and ensuring strong support services for those in recovery,” Amedore wrote on the New York State Senate website. “But we need to take on the heroin epidemic from all sides and that includes properly punishing the big business dealers that are bringing this poison into our communities.”