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Will Heroin Epidemic Mean Stricter Criminal Penalties?

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Will Heroin Epidemic Mean Stricter Criminal Penalties?

June 19, 2014

Ocean County and, really, the whole country is seeing a surge in heroin use. There are a variety of reasons as to why it has become so popular, but much of it can be attributed to prescription pain medication addictions. With a system that tracks how many pain pills Ocean County residents pick up, they may eventually be cut off, but they can then turn to heroin to get their fix. And, it seems there is even a way to have heroin ordered online and delivered to one’s door.

This kind of growing problem in New Jersey has some people wondering whether law enforcement will start to crack down on people for heroin possession. The government and law enforcement has always had a peculiar way of dealing with its citizens’ drug addictions; by locking people up and fining them, they are not addressing the underlying addictions.

Heroin availability rose from 30 to 45 percent between 2007 to 2013. While this was not the biggest leap in availability in the country, it does indicate a wider problem. Many states are recognizing the need to change how they deal with heroin, including passing bills that would give individuals charged with heroin possession some leniency if they agree to treatment. Whether New Jersey will see such a bill remains to be seen.

As it stands currently, being convicted of heroin possession is quite serious. Not only could you be sentenced to five years in prison, but you could also lose your driver’s license for two years and have to pay up to $35,000 in fines. If police believe you are planning on selling your heroin, you would face the harsher charge of possession with intent to sell.

Source: Cincinnati Enquirer, “Across the US, an explosion of addiction,” James Pilcher and Lisa Bernard-Kuhn, June 15, 2014

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