Controversial drug bill creates “drug trafficking homicide” – KOLD

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) – The Arizona House Judiciary Committee voted unanimously to move HB 2021 which creates a new crime in the state: drug trafficking homicide.
The bill asserts that it’s going after the peddlers of the deadly and dangerous drug fentanyl, the leading cause of death among 25 to 45 year old’s in America.
And the bill does that, but critics argue it does much more.
“A spouse could give her husband a prescribed sleeping pill and he dies from that and she would be under this bill,” a defense attorney argued. “And that’s what concerns me is this bill is so broad.”
Under the bill, a person who gives, or under the bill “transfers”, drugs to another person who dies, faces conviction for homicide and up to 29 years in prison.
No drug dealer needs to be involved. The person who transfers the drug could be a family member, cousin, friend or room mate.
“The word transfer is a massive expansion,” said Pima County Attorney Laura Conover, who made the trip to the state legislature to argue against the bill. “A massive expansion.”
She told the committee kids are sharing cocaine in a room and later that cocaine has caused the death of a person, we’re looking at sending that kid off on homicide charges.
But she’s also concerned with the threat of homicide, many might be unwilling to call 911 when seconds can be the difference between life or death.
“I need the friends and roommates and cousins and dorm mates, I need them calling 911 immediately and I need that message to be clear,” Conover said. “I need them to be reassured that I’m not going to throw a homicide charge against them for doing so.”
But that argument didn’t catch hold for most of the lawmakers on the panel who heard from mothers who lost children to the fentanyl epidemic.
“This person for 40 dollars dealt death to my child,” said a distraught mother. “This person had been in jail multiple times, didn’t stop her, she has killed multiple people.”
One of the bill’s biggest supporters, Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk, says the bill will make drug dealers think twice.
“If you come in and you are trafficking dangerous drugs and you’re killing our kids and killing our citizens, you are going to be charged with homicide,” she told the ten member panel.
She says this kind of law has been used in 23 other states , as well as the federal government, with success and she said it’s time to bring it here.
“If the message spreads that they face homicide charges, … they will not be willing to be the peddlers of this poison by the drug cartels,” Polk said. “I believe it will send a strong deterrent message.”
Even though some of the lawmakers voted for it today, they did so with trepidation, saying they reserved the right to vote no if the bill gets to the full house in its current form.
Copyright 2022 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.


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