The state of Tennessee is considering a bill that would make it possible to charge those who supplied drugs if the people they gave them to then overdosed and passed away. It's going to be reviewed on April 4.
Lawmakers in the state say they're trying to push back against the use of heroin, prescription drugs, and opioids. The bill, called House Bill 786, would give authorities the option to seek voluntary manslaughter charges when some drugs were illegally sold, delivered, or distributed before an OD.
Those who support the bill say that their goal is to curb the fatal overdoses, not just to throw more people in jail. One lawmaker said that he hoped not a single person would ever face incarceration because of the new bill, but that he knew it would send a message. The hope, he implied, was that people would know the stakes were high and then wouldn't sell drugs for fear of being charged for a death after the fact.
Another official said that drug addicts weren't even the real target of this bill at all. He said they were already suffering. He then went on to claim that those trafficking and selling the drugs were using those people for profit, even at the risk of their death.
If this bill passes, it would likely be controversial, as those accused may argue that they never forced anyone to overdose and shouldn't be charged as if they deliberately caused a death. As such, it will be very important to watch the upcoming review to see how it may change people's rights and the sentences that can be used in the state.
Source: WKRN, "Tennessee bill would hold drug suppliers responsible in overdose deaths," Stephanie Langston, March 16, 2017