Law broadens charge of death by distribution to sharing the drug

CHARLOTTE — A new state law recently upgraded penalties related to overdose deaths.

If someone gives someone else a drug and they die of an overdose, they are treated the same as a drug dealer.

The main change in the law is that you no longer must sell drugs to be convicted. All it takes is to share the drugs.

“The injury to society is just as great. Whether you killed somebody by drugs you gave them or killed somebody by drugs you sold them,” said Eddie Caldwell, vice president of the North Carolina Sheriff’s Association.

The association pushed for change in the law.

“It’s all about trying to protect the victims to the extent that we can and hold people accountable,” Caldwell said.

Channel 9 spoke with a former addict, who didn’t want to be identified.

“All you can think of is what your addiction is telling you,” said the woman, who has been in recovery for four years. “It’s telling you that you have to do this. You have to get these drugs at all costs.”

She doesn’t believe the change in the law will reduce the number of overdoses.

The woman thinks the emphasis should be on helping people who have issues with substance abuse.

“If you just keep doing these things like this and just arresting people and just locking them up and putting them in a system with no help afterward, you’re going to get the same results,” the woman said.

Channel 9 asked Caldwell about that.

“Refer that question to the parent of the deceased and to the spouse of the deceased,” Caldwell said.

State health officials said that 77% of overdose deaths involve fentanyl. The change in the law goes into effect on Dec. 1.

VIDEO: CMPD: Fentanyl’s impact on Charlotte community