PA Judge Orders Dealer To Buy Anti-Overdose Narcan For Communities
Allegheny County Judge Anthony Mariani has began ordering convicted drug dealers to buy life-saving medication Narcan (naloxone) kits for communities in which they distributed drugs. Narcan is used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, and can be administered as a shot or a spray.
Last month, Andy Buxton was fined $2,650 to pay for kits in the Mononhahela Valley. Additionally, Larry Richardson, 41, was fined $1,250 to buy kits for the Ross/West View Emergency Medical Squad. Those numbers reflected $50 for every brick of heroin the men were convicted of possessing with intent to sell.
“Ordering the defendant to provide funds for naloxone to the relevant agency will help to rehabilitate him and change his thinking.”
Buxton was convicted on multiple counts, and was also sentenced to 7-14 years.
Richardson was convicted on two felony counts of possession with intent to deliver. He was also sentenced to 5-10 years in prison. The fine is a condition of both defendants’ probation, and they won’t have to start paying until release.
Richardson, who is black, stated that overdose deaths are only now being noticed due to the number of white people involved. Richardson may have a valid point:
“It wasn’t a problem when my dad and my uncle were OD’ing in the community back in the ’70s and ’80s, We didn’t have Narcan…now all of a sudden because it’s young white people coming into the city for drugs, it’s a problem.”
Tim Phillips, Westmoreland County’s drug overdose task force, regarding the Judge’s approach:
“This is the first I’ve heard of it, and I’m sure it could have a positive effect. It could be part of the solution. Anything that will save a life is worth considering.”
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) In 2015, Allegheny County ranked 12th in Pennsylvania for drug overdose-related deaths. Of those, over two-thirds were related to heroin. Miiddle-aged white men made up the majority of deaths. Overdose deaths rose 37% from 2014-2015, for a total of 422.
Additionally, in Westmoreland County, overdose deaths rose 43% during that that same time.
Philadelphia ranked #1 for drug overdose deaths, and of those deaths, heroin was responsible for just over half.
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology