State lawmakers working to pass set of bills aimed at reducing current heroin crisis

State lawmakers working to pass set of bills aimed at reducing current heroin crisis

(Toledo News Now) - State lawmakers are working on a set of new bills aimed at reducing the heroin crisis across the state of Ohio.

The heroin epidemic continues to grow in Ohio and it doesn't appear to be letting up. Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn says no community is exempt.

“Second to alcohol, heroin is taking more lives than anything else,” said Wasylyshyn. “Unfortunately, we've had some overdoses where people have died. It's very serious.”

Now lawmakers want to pass a set of new bills to help reverse the trend.

One of those bills includes the Good Samaritan bill, which would give certain immunity to drug users seeking emergency help for others who have overdosed.

“We're hoping that way we incentive people, who might be using in the area, to do the right thing, call and save somebody's life,” said District 83 Representative Robert Sprague.

Representative Sprague co-sponsored the bill and says while there are some protections, they are limited.

“We made sure that people would not be arrested for minor drug possession, but that excludes drug dealers,” said Sprague.

The representative says the bill was brought up before, but never made it out of committee. He says now, with heroin overdoses on the rise, legislators believe it is time to push the bill through.

“(Do you think the bill will be pushed through this time?) I do, we will prevail,” said Sprague.

“The idea is, ‘let's get them the help.' We can sort the criminal stuff later, but let's encourage people to call 911 to get help to someone who's unconscious and dying from an overdose,” said Wasylyshyn.

The other three bills include making sure that insurance companies cover tamper-resistant pills, placing tighter controls on narcotic prescriptions for patients and making sure there is access to behavioral health treatment for addiction and mental illness.

The set of bills will officially be introduced on Monday. They will then head to committee.

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