RALEIGH, N.C. (WECT) - Law enforcement has a new way to battle the opioid crisis in North Carolina after Governor Roy Cooper signed House Bill 474 into law on Monday.
When the bill known more commonly as Death by Distribution becomes law on Dec. 1, a dealer who illegally sells a controlled substance that results in a user's death could face a charge equal to second-degree murder.
Don Flattery of Brunswick County lost his 26-year-old son Kevin to a drug overdose in 2014.
Now an advocate for fighting addiction, Flattery understands why some are worried about the bill passing.
"This bill could discourage people from making the call and doing the right thing,” said Flattery. “But I believe the bill has enough prosecutorial discretion in it so that the prosecutor can target true drug dealers.
"The idea isn't to go after addicted users who are using together and there might be an overdose event. (Lawmakers) are trying to get after the distribution and distributors who are potentially responsible for so many of these deaths."
Flattery said the drugs being sold now are more dangerous than the ones that contributed to his son’s death five years ago. Part of the reason for the increased danger of street drugs is how dealers manipulate the product.
"Drug dealers are adulterating these drugs and doing it intentionally,” Flattery said. “These drugs are deadly in micrograms. They are doing this for profit, knowing they are adding poison that can and does kill.”
While Flattery said he believes the bill is a move in the right direction, he hopes more will be done.
“We have to address that with some tougher strategies,” he said. “We cannot sit by and watch the number of overdose deaths rise."