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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session


Posted: December 1, 2022 08:30 AM
From: Senator James R. Brewster
To: All Senate members
Subject: Drug Prevention, Recovery, and Enforcement
In the near future, I will introduce a package of legislation to deal with the heroin/opioid epidemic. 

My proposal is a three-pronged effort designed to 1. prevent heroin abuse, 2. spur recovery efforts and 3. enforce strict laws aimed at taking drug pushers, who use illegal firearms, off the street.

My legislation requires mandatory treatment for drug addicted offenders charged with minor offenses, imposes strict opioid prescription limits, and adds new stiff penalties for those possessing large quantities of drugs and illegal guns.

While the mandated treatment specified in the measure would increase costs, these costs are dealt with in several ways. 

First, a portion of the treatment costs may be borne by Medicaid if the person is eligible. This defrays the cost of incarcerating a non-violent addicted individual and puts that person in the best course of treatment; plus, it would reduce the likelihood of recidivism. 

Secondly, the measure calls for funds seized in drug raids to be redirected to help pay for the costs of the treatment. 

Thirdly, the proposal would encourage stakeholders in the treatment community to better coordinate and collaborate on the resources that may be available.

Document #1

Introduced as SB626

Description: Drug Prevention (1)
Under the first piece of the proposal, a person charged with a minor non-violent criminal offense (misdemeanor one and lower) who has been treated by first responders in emergency situations can be subject to mandatory commitment to a treatment facility if it is determined that he or she is addicted and believed to be a danger to himself or herself or others. The person charged, his or her attorney, or the district attorney will initiate the mandatory treatment procedure.
A hearing would be held within 10 days of arrest to ascertain whether the person can be involuntarily treated. The initial period of treatment would be 12 months. If the person successfully completes treatment, then the underlying criminal charges may be dismissed.

Document #2

Introduced as SB627

Description: Drug Recovery (2)
The second piece of legislation attempts to limit the availability of opioids. This proposal would prohibit opioid prescriptions of more than 100 milligrams of morphine or the equivalent each day. This portion of the plan mirrors a law now in force in Maine that restricts opioid prescriptions and builds on guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and state medical board guidelines.
The CDC indicated that patients receiving prescriptions in higher levels than those specified in the guidelines are linked to patient harm and represent a disproportionate share of overdoses.

Document #3

Introduced as SB628

Description: Drug Enforcement (3)
The third prong is the enforcement piece in the package. It is aimed directly at drug dealers who illegally possess guns. The measure restores strict sentences for armed drug dealers previously invalidated by the courts. The proposal stiffens penalties for those possession both large quantities of drugs and illegal weapons. Sentences are enhanced by one grade if the individual is convicted of dealing while illegally possessing a weapon.