The Kentucky Senate has voted to make all trafficking in heroin or Fentanyl Class C felonies, a measure designed to help reduce overdose deaths.
Bill sponsor John Schickel told fellow senators that, since 2011, trafficking in less than two grams of heroin has been punishable by one to five years in prison. Under this proposed legislation, a convicted trafficker would face a five to ten year sentence.
The floor debate broadened to include discussion of prescribed opioid abuse. Senate President Robert Stivers spoke of a Lexington Herald-Leader report detailing 3 million doses of opioid-related medications over 12 months in his Clay County district.
“We can talk about education, we can talk about training. But when you have not got the mental capabilities of walking in because you’re on drugs, you can’t get the training, you can’t get the education,” he said.
Stivers said he will do what he can to change the dynamics in his community regarding drug problems, even if it might cost him politically four years from now.
“This will put heroin traffickers on notice finally in the state of Kentucky, if you’re going to kill our young people, you’re going to do the time,” he said.
Pikeville Senator Ray Jones believes too many doctors are prescribing too many addictive pain killers. Winchester senator and physician Ralph Alvarado argued many of those prescriptions came from doctors outside Kentucky.
Schickel said being an addict should be no excuse for heroin dealing. He adds what’s been missing from the debate on the drug is the role of personal responsibility.