Legislation approved by the Senate Tuesday creates a new crime to charge drug dealers with higher penalties if the person they deliver those drugs to overdoses and dies. But some lawmakers worry the measure will ensnare otherwise innocent people.
The bill dramatically increases penalties for drug dealers if a person dies in part because of the drugs they were sold or given. But Sen. Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) poses this hypothetical: you get pain medicine to treat a toothache. You give some to a friend who also has a toothache. That friend accidentally overdoses and dies.
“Sounds like the person who gave that bottle of hydrocodone to his friend would have committed a Level 1 felony underneath the bill you’re proposing,” Lanane says.
A Level 1 felony could mean up to 40 years in prison.
Sen. Mike Young (R-Indianapolis), the bill’s sponsor, says it sends a simple message.
“If you don’t want to be convicted of dealing in drugs [that] results in death, don’t deal drugs,” Young says.
The bill, a priority of the governor’s, now heads to his desk.