Ohio legislators consider two new laws to fight drugs - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Ohio legislators consider two new laws to fight drugs

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Getting busted with the powerful opiate fentanyl may soon come with a stricter prison sentence.

The proposed legislation, that is now on the governor's desk, is one of two new efforts by Ohio lawmakers to fight the drug epidemic. 

Under the proposed legislation there would be an increase in mandatory jail sentencing for a lesser possession of the drug. For example, someone with 10-20 grams of fentanyl would get a mandatory jail sentence.  As the law currently stands, someone could typically have up to 100 grams before being put behind bars.

"This bill is designed to be harder on the trafficking of drugs," said State Representative Michael O'Brien.
Another proposed bill would require anyone already on parole to be immediately sent to jail or a treatment facility if they test positive for heroin, fentanyl, or carfentanil.

Testimony before the Ohio House said the bill comes after a 31-year-old tested positive for drugs during a probation check, but was allowed to go home. He then died of an overdose. His mother testified that jail would have been the safest place for him.

The idea of mandatory jail sentencing, as proposed in the two pieces of legislation, is met with mixed reaction.

Valley Native Eric Ungaro is a candidate to become a State Representative, he has also been open about his brother's death from an overdose and said, for him, sentencing depends on the person.

"The law has got to be as strict as humanly possible with the dealers. They need buried," said Ungaro.

But for the users, Ungaro said judges need to look at the individual. He also has concerns over the lack of available treatment beds which could lead to prison overcrowding.

"You almost have to go to a statewide type of program where the kid gets picked up or tests dirty in Mahoning County.. is there bed in Trumbull? Is there a bed in Cuyahoga? Is there a bed in Stark?," said Ungaro.

The solution to the drug problem is without a doubt difficult, but the attention of lawmakers, some say, is a start.

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