Kentucky turns up heat in the battle against heroin - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Kentucky turns up heat in the battle against heroin

(PHOTO: FOX19 NOW/ Gordon Graham) (PHOTO: FOX19 NOW/ Gordon Graham)

Kentucky Governor, Steve Beshear, signed a comprehensive new bill into law Wednesday that will provide harsher penalties for drug dealers and it also offer help and relief to those in the grip of heroin addiction.

Kenton County Commonwealth Attorney, Rob Sanders, said he's reserving judgement on the on the bill until he understands exactly what's in it.

“Ultimately I got to see the bill itself because the devil is in the details. They're talking about some very complicated changes to the criminal law system. It could be very good for us. It could be very bad for us,” said Sanders.

Sanders said he is in favor of treatment for heroin addicts, including those behind bars, but he's concerned about the so-called Good Samaritan clause that allows someone who calls in an overdose to avoid prosecution on drug charges.

“I'm not a big fan of the immunity for people who call 911 just because it has a great potential for being abused by people who can claim that defense when there wasn't an overdose,” said Sanders

Meanwhile Eric Specht, whose family founded the group NKY Hates Heroin, said he couldn't be more pleased even with the bill's controversial needle exchange provision.

“It is something that will definitely help alleviate the problem. There's no doubt that we're going to be seeing huge increases in Hepatitis-C and AIDS and this will help reduce the social costs associated with that,” Specht said.

The measure also calls for the expanded use of the anti-overdose drug naloxone by first responders.

One of the complications that Rob Sanders mentioned is applying tougher penalties for heroin dealers because, for instance, someone caught with less than 2-grams of the drug is not considered a dealer unless they've also have drug paraphernalia and the prosecutor can prove they were trafficking.

Heroin overdoses reported by emergency rooms in Northern Kentucky jumped from 252 in 2011, to 745 in 2014.

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