Massachusetts authorities focus attention to heroin
Like other states on the east coast, Massachusetts has seen a significant increase in the number of heroin related overdoses in recent months. Indeed, according to a report by the Boston Globe, there were 185 reported heroin overdose deaths in the state between November 2013 and February of this year. The burgeoning problem of heroin and opiate use has led many to call for policy changes and is likely to lead to a renewed focus on crimes including drug trafficking and possession.
Recently, Governor Deval Patrick announced that he was declaring a public health emergency in Massachusetts in an effort to stop the abuse of heroin and other opiates. Notably, he directed emergency personnel, including firefighters and police, to carry the drug Narcan, which is used to fight the effects of opiate overdoses. Prior to this announcement, state law prevented some emergency personnel from carrying the drug. Governor Patrick also announced increased spending for addiction recovery programs in state prisons and jails.
These moves were made necessary by an influx of particularly potent heroin into the state. Not only is this heroin more pure than what many users are accustomed to, but it is also quite inexpensive.
Heroin is not, however, the only problem. It has also become alarmingly common for individuals to abuse prescription painkillers, which can be deadly in high doses. As part of its plan to combat opiate abuse, Governor Patrick announced that the state will also require pharmacies and doctors to track the use of medication that has shown potential for abuse.
Many in law enforcement believe that these new programs will help save lives. The Quincy Police Department, for example, took part in the initial pilot project designed to determine whether police should be equipped with Narcan. In the year and a half before they began the pilot, the department saw a total of 47 deaths due to opiate overdose. After a year and a half of taking part in the pilot project, that number had dropped to 16.
Of course, these efforts to improve safety are likely to be accompanied by greater attention to drug crimes overall. It is likely, too, that prosecutors will step up efforts to ensure the conviction of those arrested for drug trafficking or possession.
If you have been arrested or are under investigation for any sort of drug crime, contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer. A criminal defense attorney can help you zealously defend your rights.