In 2017, at least 11 states introduced drug-enhanced homicide bills intended to punish people who sell drugs that lead to an overdose death, adding to the 20 states that already have such laws on the books.Drug Policy Alliance, An Overdose Death is Not Murder: Why Drug-induced Homicide Laws Are Counterproductive and Inhumane (New York: Drug Policy Alliance, 2017).
Legislatures in Illinois, Maryland, New York, and West Virginia passed such bills, while those in Idaho, Maine, New Hampshire, and Virginia did not.For laws that passed, see Illinois SB 639 (2017); Maryland HB 687, amended to SB 539 (2017); New York SB 2761 (2017); New York State Senator George A. Amedore, Jr., “Senator Amedore Announces Passage of ‘Laree’s Law,’” press release (Albany, NY: New York State Senator Amedore, June 13, 2017); West Virginia Code 60A-4-416. For laws that failed, see Idaho HB 178 (2017); Maine LD 42 (2017); New Hampshire HB 153 (2017); and Virginia SB 66 (2017). The rest remain in process.Bills are still pending in Connecticut (see Connecticut HB 5367 (2017); Massachusetts (see Massachusetts SB 2185 (2017); Andy Metzger, “Mass. Senate Approves Criminal Justice Reform Bill 27-10,” WBUR, October 27, 2017; and South Carolina (see South Carolina SB 1287 (2015). Critics say the laws make drug users less likely to call for help due to fear of criminal prosecution, are not a deterrent, and are disproportionately invoked against people of color.Drug Policy Alliance, An Overdose Death is Not Murder (2017), at 2-4.