In response to ongoing prescription drug and heroin problems in Ocean County, Senator Jim Holzapfel and Assemblymen Dave Wolfe and Greg McGuckin of the 10th Legislative District recently met with Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato to discuss the changes needed to stop this epidemic.
Senator Jim Holzapfel (seated-left) and Assemblymen Dave Wolfe (standing-left) and Greg McGuckin (standing-right) of the 10th District meeting with Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato (seated-right) to discuss legislation that could help combat the epidemic of prescription drug and heroin abuse that is plaguing much of New Jersey. (SenateNJ.com)
“We are working alongside the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office to reassess and enhance the current state law to allow for more severe penalties for the distribution of specific drugs and to combat the growing heroin epidemic our state currently faces. While there is no quick fix for the growing number of overdoses and heroin related deaths, we must target the distributors. Prescription pill abuse is the new gateway to heroin addiction. Our residents and children need to be educated about the deadly effects before this epidemic gets worse,” the 10th District legislators stated.
The legislators have sponsored multiple pieces of legislation to strengthen state laws against prescription drug and heroin abuse.
One of the bills, S-2781/A-4151, where the 10th District legislators joined forces with prime sponsor Chris Connors and his 9th District legislative colleagues, allows certain drug dealing offenses to be graded by “units” rather than weight of a controlled dangerous substance. This would allow for a defendant to be charged with a higher level of offense than is permitted now.
A second bill introduced, A-4220, seeks to increase participation in New Jersey’s electronic Prescription Monitoring Program, which collects data on prescriptions dispensed for all controlled and dangerous substances. This bill is intended to prevent the diversion, abuse and illegal sale of prescription drugs. This measure encourages doctors to participate in the program and increase information sharing to ensure that prescriptions are also being monitored from state to state.
“Ocean County has seen 71 drug overdose deaths to date. We have far surpassed the 2012 total of 53 with another 5 months ahead. To address this crisis I need more than the help of law enforcement partners, educators, rehab health care professionals and parents,” said Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato. “I welcome the help of Senator Holzapfel and the 10th District Legislative Office. We must strengthen drug statutes in order to stop the suppliers and to ultimately stop the deaths.”