Do Drug-Induced Homicide Laws Punish Dealers or Kill Addicts?

Submission Date: January 19, 2016
Attributing Author: Zachary Siegel

While prosecutors talk about “dealing death,” low level sellers are afraid to call 911 when a friend overdoses.

Heroin needs no marketing. It’s a perfect product that virtually sells itself. Wherever there is heroin it will be bought, no sales pitch necessary. Yet a deadly batch of heroin flowing through Western Massachusetts is being sardonically marketed as “Hollywood”—so pure it has users falling out in a flash.

Like any brilliant marketing scheme, Hollywood heroin brings to mind an unshakable image: blinding bright bulbs followed by bodies falling toward the concrete embedded, brass stars.

The Hollywood batch is responsible for several fatal overdoses since December 30. It’s wrecked towns, broken apart families, and has kept police and first responders on their toes, waiting for the next call. But justice so far has been swift. On Jan. 3, in Springfield, Mass., some 9,000 bags and $20,000 in cash were seized during drug raids.

Detectives intercepted drug deliveries in Springfield and arrested dealers from nearby Chicopee, North Adams, and Holyoke. Those caught were charged with possession with the intent to distribute a class A substance. But will more charges soon follow? What’s being hotly debated is whether or not the “Strict Liability for Drug-Induced Death” will be invoked, and the question of whether it’s the just thing to do remains unclear.

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