A topic that is gaining much popularity in New Jersey, especially in Ocean County where there have been over 100 overdoses from opiates this year alone, is should drug dealers receive tougher punishments? New Jersey state lawmakers are trying to upgrade the penalties for dealing drugs such as heroin, LSD and methamphetamine by letting prosecutors press charges based on the number of doses of the drug, rather than it's weight. This movement is in the right direction, giving stiffer penalties to dealers and those with intent to distribute rather than just possession for personal use. When you go after the dealers with stronger penalties, it makes more of a difference than charging the addict who is just using. That addict who is charged will be sent to jail for a short time, most likely released and put into drug court. While the dealer is booked and released back to the public to sell more drugs.
The bill is intended to increase the penalties for drug distribution. For example, it would become a first-degree offense to have one ounce or more of heroin with the intent to distribute, rather than the current five ounces, or 500 units of cocaine and heroin. That puts a dealer in prison for up to 20 years. The state is hoping that lengthy sentences will deter some dealers from dealing these drugs.
In Ocean County, lead prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato is going a step further. He is implementing his own programs as well. One of which is freezing all assets of drug dealers when detained. If convicted, all of these assets will be sold at auction. Homes, cars, and other possessions obtained by selling drugs will be auctioned off. The proceeds from the these auctions will be put into educational programs for the county as well as other programs involving drug rehabilitation. I feel this is an outstanding idea and a great way to take money obtained by distributing pain and using it to create a positive outcome.
I hope to see the bill passed very soon into state legislature. It is easy to say that the addict is just as much at fault as the dealer but I do not see it that way. A dealer takes advantage of people, sees an opportunity to make money off of the desperate and slowly helps them kill themselves. They have no concern for other people's well-being and only care about money in their pocket. Dealers need stiffer penalties and this bill could be exactly what our towns and cities need to help curb illegal drug dealing.