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Heroin "Epidemic" In Barnegat, Manahawkin, Elsewhere Prompts Legislative Action

There have been 82 overdose deaths in Ocean County as of Aug. 26, many of which were linked to heroin use

A heroin "epidemic" that's pervading Barnegat, Manahawkin and other Ocean County towns has compelled lawmakers to propose legislation that would attempt to curtail the local drug trade.

Sen. Christopher J. Connors, Assemblyman Brian E. Rumpf and Assemblywoman DiAnne C. Gove have proposed legislation that would strengthen current state law by allowing drug dealing offenses to be graded by "units," rather than weight, of controlled dangerous substances, including heroin.

Enactment of this anti-drug legislative initiative would give prosecutors the option to grade the seriousness of a drug distribution offense by the number of dosage units involved, rather than the weight of the drugs, the lawmakers said.

In a letter to Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Sheila Y. Oliver, the Ocean County delegation highlighted the compelling need for legislation action to combat the rising tide of heroin use.

Connors, Rumpf and Gove cited alarming statistics regarding heroin use in Ocean County. Recently, the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office announced that there have been 82 overdose deaths in the county as of Aug. 26, many of which were linked to heroin use.  

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The letter reads as follows:  

Dear President Sweeney and Speaker Oliver:

 “Through this communication, we are respectfully requesting your consideration of posting our companion legislation, S-2781 and A-4151, that would strengthen current State law by allowing drug dealing offenses to be graded by "units," rather than weight, of controlled dangerous substances, including heroin.  This anti-drug legislative initiative was developed in consultation with Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato. Upon introduction, S-2781 and A-4151 were referred, respectively, to the Senate Judiciary and Assembly Judiciary Committees.

Enactment of this anti-drug legislative initiative, which has bipartisan sponsorship, would give prosecutors the option to grade the seriousness of a drug distribution offense by the number of dosage units involved, rather than the weight of the drugs.  The "units" reflect how many people might have been injured by the drug dealer's illicit conduct.  Reclassifying the prosecution of drug crimes would assist law enforcement in targeting major drug dealers who, under existing law, are able to avoid incarceration due to the weight classification presently used in drug offenses.  The charge by "units" would apply only to persons who distribute or possess illicit drugs with the intent to distribute.  It would not be used to determine the seriousness of "simple possession" drug offenses.

Allowing prosecutors the option to grade the seriousness of a drug distribution offense based on the units as opposed to the weight of drugs seized by law enforcement will allow for a more effective prosecution of drug dealers.  In many drug cases, this would allow for a defendant to be charged with a higher level of offense than is permitted under current law.  Under our legislation, the crime of heroin distribution would be re-graded to make the weights comparable to the weights required for cocaine. Current law provides that the distribution of heroin and cocaine are punishable under the Criminal Code as if they were the same substance, despite that heroin provides more pharmacological effect from a given weight than does cocaine.  Consequently, drug dealers who distribute heroin are treated more leniently than those who distribute cocaine. 

Recently, the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office announced that there have been 82 overdose deaths in the County as of August 26 of this year, many of which were linked to heroin use.  This alarming statistic is one of many that illustrates the pressing need to address the growing heroin epidemic. Accordingly, we are respectfully requesting your full consideration of S-2781 and A-4151.  Thank you, in advance, for your attention to this important legislative request.” 

Susan September 20, 2013 at 08:58 AM
I agree "voice of reason". Why are we not focusing on the source. the big time dealers are not users. they don't care about the horific impact these drugs have on our children. We need to figure out how to get the big guys and just think of the impact that would have if we could actually do that. I do know that 30 days in a rehab is not a solution: at best a bandaide. these people need help to fight this and 6 months or more is the solution. Governor Christy has enacted "Drug court" which will keep a close eye on them with regular drug testing. Incarceration if they test positive. I'm all for that. Two weeks back in jail where they have no choice but to detox yet again. Has anyone ever seen someone detox from Heroin. Someone that you love who is trying to clean up. They come so close to death trying to clean up on their own. this drug is so evil they had no idea what they were getting into. Heroin was not out there for many years so how could they know. Heroin kills people. Its so evil. My heart breaks for these people.
Transparent C September 20, 2013 at 09:53 AM
What would be nice is when a media source reports using a term like "epidemic" - they add data to substantiate that. What are the percentage of deaths based on total populations and give comparative numbers from known drug havens like Lakewood and Camden . The sensationalization without factual support is why there is a lack of credibility on many blog news outlets. Please give data or links to it in the future.
Matt Fitz September 20, 2013 at 10:11 AM
They need help! Treatment, Not Jail, For Low Level Drug Crimes Prison isn't the answer. Treatment, Not Jail, For Low Level Drug Crimes
Melinda Russell September 20, 2013 at 11:59 AM
Keep turning a blind eye to all the illegals living under the radar and heroin will keep coming to our great county. Keep turning a blind eye to lazy-ass doctors and insurance companies that would rather prescribe pain killers than exercise and proper diet and people will keep getting addicted.
lauren woodland September 20, 2013 at 12:00 PM
Coming from a family who has lost there son and brother from heroin overdose. Its the most horrific thing anyone can ever go through, to watch the person you love slowly kill themselves. Going through multiple rehab centers, out patient programs, you name it. Addiction is a disease its not something that is curable. Even if your one of the few that beats it its a lifetime of fighting to not go back to that place again. Anyone that has a close and personal relationship to someone that has an addiction problem knows this. My baby brother was no scumbag. He was a kind, gentle and loving kid who got mixed up and through years of trying to save his life the drug took him away from the people who loved him more than life. Whether you believe me or not a drug addict feels worse about what he is doing to the people he loves than you think, the problem is they cant stop themselves. Its the saddest thing ive ever had to experience and I wouldnt wish this this pain upon not even my worst enemy. Addiction rips peoples lives apart and when it takes a life it leaves a hole that nothing can replace. These people need help. The loss of my brother destroyed my life as it not only took his life it took the life of my mom as well. people need to think before they speak and or judge. I would do anything in the world to get these drugs off the streets just to save a life...
Melinda Russell September 20, 2013 at 12:03 PM
A good old fashioned beat down of anyone caught dealing might go a long way to stemming the tide of drugs. Word is out that a slap on the wrist is the penalty so why fear the law?
Susan September 20, 2013 at 01:04 PM
Yes Melinda and everyone with cancer needs a good old fashioned beat down too as well huh maybe; 15 or 20 years in jail too. How dare they burden society with their illness. You really have no compassion for anyone, Miss Melinda. Like I said education would go a long way to helping society deal with this problem. Why are so many people ignorant about this. Do they live under a rock somewhere. I know several families dealing with this problem. If this is such an epidimic than why are so many people so ignorant. I say Melinda and people like her spewing ignorance should be made to go get an education. I would gladly do anything I could to help. Long term Prison is not the answer though unless you keep them there forever and then prison is not free you know. Our tax dollars pay for that. Then good people learn to be criminals with drug addictions. When they get out of jail we have a bigger problem then when they went in. Illness should be treated not punished. I say if you want to force them into getting well. send them to treatment centers but keep them away from criminals please. We don't need more criminals. Not all addicts are criminals you know.
Tired of this place September 20, 2013 at 03:32 PM
@ lauren So Sorry for your loss i too lost a brother , these people are the most ignorant when they were never in our shoes , but the should watch their own families cause it could be going on behind their own back and then they would be singing a diffrent tune!
lauren woodland September 20, 2013 at 05:36 PM
Thank you, Im sorry for your loss too. No one ever knows until they walked a day...
Melinda Russell September 21, 2013 at 08:16 AM
Well Susan it is you who are ignorant and cannot read properly - you don't know where I'm coming from at all (I said the dealers should be beaten - not the addicts) but you are an expert on everyone's opinion it seems - the dealer who sold my nephew the dose of heroin that killed him last summer should have her ass beat - she was on camera at the location they met up and the police did nothing. They had the text messages from the phone and did nothing. He was my sister's only child. And no, I do not have any compassion whatsoever for people who do harm to others for their own profit! My nephew was born with a birth deficiency that required many surgeries and then pain killers afterward. The predisposition to addiction started in the hospital and no one thought to add counseling to the after care of surgery. He was three months out of OC jail and, had a nice job and was clean but the day he died he would have had to check in with his parole officer but she was on vacation and there was no one to cover her absence - so the demon easily found it's way back in the door.
Tired of this place September 21, 2013 at 02:06 PM
@ Melinda. I am so. Sorry. For. Your. Loss. When. These. Know it alls find themselves in our. Shoes. You will never hear from them again KARMA, these cops are disgusting everything on camera and no one does anything. I have no respect for these overpaid jerks
tiffany September 22, 2013 at 11:13 AM
Addiction is a disease blah blah blah so every alcoholic that is addicted to drinking is going to become a dope head NO bc you chose to be a SCUMBAG and shoot that needle into your arm it is YOUR choice to do heroin and no disease makes you try it for the first time my kids wont do heroin just like my sisters didn't my cousins didn't and no one in my family ever has 90% of the friends I had growing up are dope heads not bc they all have a disease but bc they chose to take on that partying SCUMBAG life style people make up excuses for these people but why they don't care about anybody they have one love in there life and that's the needle and the baggy so yes lets pay more taxes to throw some dopeheads in rehab and and watch 70% of them get out and go right back to it YOU PEOPLE MAKE ME SICK My dad got hit by a drug addict while he was riding his bicycle and died so my dad who never touched a drug in his life lost his life for some piece of SCUM that you guys defend like they are any use to our society they are just sitting on welfare taking away from people that actually could use help
Tired of this place September 23, 2013 at 09:22 AM
NEVER SAY NEVER TIFFANY
Tim Thomas September 23, 2013 at 09:42 AM
@Susan - Unless you're talking about tobacco or alcohol, all addicts are criminals. Obtaining and using illegal drugs makes them criminals. More frustrating is reading the posts about the police not taking action on what they may have been able to stop.
Susan September 24, 2013 at 05:03 PM
Hi Tim. Of course I certainly understand to that extent they are violating the law. During prohibition people were violating the law as well. Cigarettes although legal contain an addictive drug as well. The tobacco industry, an evil institution, a legal drug dealer, kills people every day, yet they are following the law selling drugs to people. They were allowed to do target advertizing to our children only a short time ago. I hate the tobaco industry and it should be illegal. I understand that alcohol is also a drug and causes dealths every single day when people with addictive personalities gets drunk gets behind the wheel and kills people every day. they are doing something illegal when they drive a vehicle under the influence. Alcohol abuse effects all walks of life. Would you like to be on a plane where the pilot is drunk flying the plane. Is he a criminal? Why would someone do that. Why would someone risk their job and drink on the job or get behind the wheel of a car under the influence. Tobacco and Alcohol as wll as Prescription drugs and Heroin are things people use who have an addictive personality use. Miss tiffany I would bet the farm someone in your family has tried illegal drugs. The difference is they didn't like it so they stopped. Addicts love it and keep going. "Criminal" technically you are correct Tim but its not as simple as that: is it Tim. Certain people are driven to be self destructive due to the genes they carry . Hmm what do you do about that. According to miss tiffany they should be lined up and shot which is a criminal action by the way Miss tiffany. Murder is against the law too. Tiffany, I'm so sorry about your Dad thats horrible. But the issue is not black and white. W e must open our minds and use compassion but we must realize this is a major problem and people killing themselves by using drugs is not acceptable even if you believe its not important because you believe they are "scum bags". sometimes they get behind the wheel of a car and they don't just hurt themselves so therefore we need to find a way to fix this problem. How about we work together as citizens to solve this problem. I do appreciate your opionions and you are entitled to them.
RyanKerri September 26, 2013 at 10:38 AM
Lauren I found your comment to be moving and powerful. Thank you for sharing
RyanKerri September 26, 2013 at 10:53 AM
tiffany never is like always. There Is no such thing. and don't forget these individuals were " people", before they became so called "scumbags". . Someone loved them , cherished them, depended on them, needed them and devoted their life them. But somehow someway, they got lost. (hmmmmm just like you with your family members. ..)
tiffany September 26, 2013 at 11:21 AM
I can say never bc I will do something majority of these parents don't do and put a foot up my kids ass
RyanKerri September 26, 2013 at 12:28 PM
Yes. that will certainly work. Never is like always......there is no such thing
RyanKerri September 26, 2013 at 12:30 PM
Abdb your righteous attitude is the reason most kids won't talk with their parents.
Mac September 26, 2013 at 12:38 PM
Ah, the Ninth District shows up to do what they do best: create more laws to reinforce the current laws that can't be enforced. But stay tuned. It will get worse or perhaps more pathetic as history has recorded all too often. When the Ocean County Freeholders are informed of this drug epidemic they will roll out their own song and dance act currently being prepared in Gilmore's bacon factory.
lauren woodland September 26, 2013 at 12:47 PM
Right as if Noone tried to put a foot up my baby brothers ass...... I am truly sorry for the loss of your father. these are things noone should ever have to go through. But please refrain from calling every drug addict a scumbag. They are not all scum bags. I know that I will educate and explain to my daughter the effects of drug use. And what it does to a family. The loss of my brother and my mom has devastated my life and my families and I would never wish anything like this upon anyone. There are good people that get mixed up in bad things. Remember that. None of this is worth arguing over... It does nothing good.
Tired of this place September 27, 2013 at 09:40 AM
@ tiffany dont you think we all tried that ! and @ lauren your right it is no good arguing over put this anger into keeping a watchful eye in your neighborhood and keep calling the cops eventually they will get tired of hearing from us and will do something !
L.ofgalloway September 27, 2013 at 09:51 AM
Mac -- I was thinking the same thing. More laws? It sounds good but if going to jail is not a deterrent, why would going for a longer period be? What about hiring more police officers.....I've heard that bc of lower staff levels police are intimidated by drug dealers, and so would we if we didn't have adequate back up available. These drug dealers have some serious weaponry and behavior that is unlike other criminals. The cost of jails and rehabs is exorbitant thus making previous attempts at the War on Drugs nearly a complete failure. We just can't jail everyone. Surely we should consider maintaining a quality sized drug enforcement agency that covers ports where drugs are initially arriving, rather than picking up young kids who get caught up selling bc and throwing them in juvie. As long as there is poverty, the cycle never ends. I don't believe cops are useless....unfortunately it seems rather obvious there is some crooked 'higher ups'. If we were trying to battle an infectious disease in the same area, everyone would be doing their best to get rid of such an epidemic. Drug usage is rampant all over the US, and it scares me to think will happen if it worsens.
L.ofgalloway September 27, 2013 at 09:53 AM
Pardon my grammar above. I really shouldn't type and attempt sipping coffee at the same time;;
Mac September 27, 2013 at 10:32 AM
@L.O ofgalloway - I agree the police have their hands tied in enforcing drug laws by politics, manpower costs, unintimidating punishments and the demand of the American people for drugs. I see two choices: we can legalize drugs so the taxes can pay for the destruction these drugs cost society or we can elect representatives capable of doing more than standing with their hands out asking for more money to not solve their problems. Then again, we could just cut out the middle man altogether and just elect drug dealers. At least we would get to campaign reform we were looking for.
Susan September 29, 2013 at 07:02 PM
I heard somewheres that the government allows the drugs to come into our country. Well thats interesting. why would they do that. Don't they care about all the deaths caused by these drugs? You would think they would huh. $$$$$$$$$$$$$
Susan September 29, 2013 at 07:51 PM
http://www.upworthy.com/if-you-hadnt-heard-of-this-little-girl-either-ask-yourself-why-that-is?c=ufb1
John Bodine October 01, 2013 at 08:53 AM
At transparent c et al- As trans mentioned the big drug havens Camden and Lakewood. These places have a 'wild west' mentality because of the amount of drugs, guns and money that is being dealt. The very same situation will follow the drugs to our neighborhoods if we don't do all the cures. We don't need to freeze ourselves into inaction with a debate over what an addiction is. If we do our next debate will be about the rising murder rate and what's causing it all.
Susan October 01, 2013 at 09:25 PM
We need to make those phone calls that help the police. It just seems logical. Jailing is just a temporary solution for troubled teens. We only have control over our own actions. We can not control others. Education has to be the first step. Ignorance is unacceptable. You can't work together if people believe stupid untruths and myths. If we can work together we can do anything. We have to unite by education so this is not a waste of time.

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