Prosecutors here in Maryland and throughout the country are working to do whatever they can to stem the opioid epidemic that takes too many lives each year. A recent New York Times report using prosecution records in 15 states found that from 2015 to 2017, prosecutions for crimes related to drug overdose deaths almost doubled. One prosecutor said he looks at it this way: "You owe me for that dead kid."
In the pantheon of drug-related offenses, sharing your prescription medication with someone probably seems like an innocent thing to do. Whether it's sharing your prescription-strength antihistamine with a visiting friend who's allergic to your cats, giving a migraine pill to a co-worker to help her make it through the rest of the day or giving your half-empty bottle of leftover oxycodone to a friend who just twisted his ankle, many people do this all the time.
Many people who die from drug overdoses don't intend to end their lives. Overdoses are the number one cause of accidental death for people from 25 to 64 -- even behind vehicle crashes -- in this country.
President Trump raised some eyebrows last month in a speech where he discussed how to tackle the nation's opioid epidemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), opioids have killed more than 500,000 people since 2000. Part of Trump's proposed plan, which he laid out before a supportive crowd, involves making high-volume drug traffickers subject to the death penalty. He referred to "big pushers, the ones who are really killing people."
When U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced at the beginning of the year that he was directing federal prosecutors to use their own discretion in dealing with marijuana users, people throughout Maryland and other states who legally use marijuana for medicinal or recreational purposes were understandably concerned.
Just days after his father was arrested for alleged drug trafficking, his teenage son was also arrested. The two men are both from Salisbury.
Sometimes the people who get caught up in criminal investigations and end up facing charges are those whose duty it is to enforce the law. That's the case with members of a Baltimore police unit who have been accused of stealing drugs from dealers and others over the course of several years. They've also been accused of stealing other items during searches.
-The Obama administration, as most of our readers know, sought to minimize the incarceration rates and the severity of penalties for people convicted only of minor drug crimes --- particularly those involving marijuana.
Officials in Baltimore County say they hope that a 40-year prison sentence handed down to a Maryland man will send a "strong message to others who deal large amounts of drugs.
Last year, Maryland lawmakers passed and Gov. Larry Hogan signed the Justice Reinvestment Act. The intent of the law, which received bipartisan support, was to lessen the number of people behind bars for nonviolent drug crimes and redirect funds to providing treatment for those convicted of these crimes.