An overdose death in Clay County, FL, of an 18 year old woman from fentanyl laced heroin last fall, has led to the first murder arrest connected to the sell of drugs. I’ve often heard the term victimless crime be utilized in reference to prostitution, recreational drug use and the dealing of drugs. Any activity which places an individual in a position where they and/or their dependents could be abused, neglected or exploited is anything but a victimless crime.
The mass deaths from the current opioid epidemic has prompted law enforcement across the country to consider approaching narcotics overdose deaths as homicides.
Frankly, I have no problem with some narcotics overdose deaths being deemed homicides. Nor do I have a problem with drug dealers being prosecuted for murder but only in cases where a solid connection is made between the suspected dealer, their deadly batch and the decedent.
However, only prosecuting and incarcerating low level drug dealers whom are often addicts themselves, has zero effect on the illicit drug market as a whole. The demand for illicit drugs and criminal enterprise are entertwined in that once you eliminate one, two more will pop up in it’s place.
Prevention is vital. We must make mental health care accessible, affordable and mainstream in our society. Screening patients for depression, anxiety and substance abuse should be an integral part of all annual wellness exams for both children and adults.
We must stop criminalizing addiction NOW. We need to determine if there is a benefit to the legalization of drugs NOW. We must fund inpatient and outpatient substance abuse programs NOW. We must support children and families affected by this epidemic NOW.