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New Crime Would Increase Drug Dealing Penalties If Buyer Dies

The Indiana Statehouse in Indianapolis.

Indiana lawmakers want to create a new crime to dramatically increase penalties for drug dealers if the buyer overdoses and dies.

Under current law, if you give a friend a small amount of Adderall or Ritalin and they overdose and die, you could get up to two and a half years in prison. If proposed legislation passes, you could get up to 40 years.

Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council executive director David Powell says the bill sends a message to drug dealers, even if it will rarely be used.

“You have to show that that drug, dealt by that guy, resulted in this person’s death. Very, very difficult,” Powell says.

The bill’s supporters say it’s largely targeted at the emergence of drugs laced with fentanyl, which has led to a spike in overdose deaths. But Indiana Public Defenders Council executive director Larry Landis says that’s not what the bill says.

“If you want to try to target, then narrow it down so that you’re focusing on really the people you want to focus on, not everybody who’s dealing drugs that result in death,” Landis says.

The bill – a priority of Gov. Eric Holcomb’s – is currently in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

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