Kentucky legislation to address heroin epidemic

FRANKFORT, KY (FOX19) - Attorney General Jack Conway, Sen. Katie Stine, and Rep. John Tilley today announced a piece of bipartisan legislation to address the increase in heroin abuse and trafficking that is being reported in communities across Kentucky.

"Many areas of the state have seen an increase in heroin use and overdoses.  We cannot stand idly by and watch our families be torn apart," General Conway said.  "We have worked together to craft this bipartisan bill that helps us get to the root of the problem, which is treating opiate addiction."

The comprehensive legislation that has been drafted over the past several months will address punishment, prevention and treatment.

According to a recent report issued by the Office of Drug Control Policy, there were over 1004 overdose deaths in Kentucky in 2012, a 650% increase from 2011.

The proposed law will increase penalties for high-volume traffickers and allow traffickers to be charged with homicide.  Both of these proposed changes to state law would make Kentucky consistent with current federal law.  Under state sentencing guidelines, it would require large volume traffickers to serve 50 percent of their sentences.  There currently is no distinction between large and small volume traffickers.  The bill also decreases the time a defendant must serve before being eligible for parole if he or she cooperates with authorities.

The bill would also require the Kentucky Medicaid Program to cover a broad array of substance abuse treatment options for people seeking opiate addiction treatment. A measure the senators say would increase treatment options while maximizing tax dollars.

Other provisions in the bill include:

  • The coroner or medical examiner must notify the Commonwealth's Attorney of any overdose death caused by the use of a Schedule I controlled substance.
  • Doctors are permitted to prescribe Naloxone to first responders and addicts' family members to help prevent overdose deaths.
  • Limited immunity from drug paraphernalia and possession charges for people who call 911 to help prevent a drug overdose death.
  • Training for peace officers on heroin overdose recognition, interdiction, and treatments.

For a copy of the bill, visit