Sen. Addabbo said “we need to be both tough and smart” in this war on opioids.
By Forum Staff
The State Senate recently passed a package of bills that take aim at New York’s opioid crisis, Sen. Joe Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach) said on Monday.
“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,” Addabbo added. “It’s a battle we need to fight on any number of fronts… We need to be both tough and smart.”
The nine pieces of legislation 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, Addabbo noted;
• 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;
• 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 prescription drug monitoring program registry to determine any existing prescriptions issued for the patient;
• 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;
• Designate the synthetic drug alpha-PVP and all of its components as a schedule 1 stimulant controlled substance, making it illegal in New York. Also known as “Flakka,” the drug is similar to “bath salts” and methamphetamine that have been banned in New York in recent years;
• 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;
• Increase penalties for the sale of drugs containing heroin;
• 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; 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.
The package of bills has been sent to the Assembly for consideration. The Lower Chamber is expected to follow suit and approve the measures. Governor Andrew Cuomo’s signature would make them official Empire State laws.
“We need every weapon in our arsenal to fight back against the horrible criminal and public health scourge of heroin and opioid abuse,” Addabbo said. “Higher penalties and even more stringent drug monitoring may be part of the overall solution.”