Fentanyl overdose reversal spray ‘standing by’ for every public school in Charlotte

With the White House charting action in schools nationwide to curb teen drug use and deaths, Charlotte-Mecklenburg leaders plan to stock opioid overdose-reversal medicine in hallways.

While there have been no documented fatal overdoses in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, some data suggests drug use among students is on the rise. Fentanyl — a synthetic opioid — is pervasive in street-bought drugs, experts say.

Naloxone, an overdose-reversal medicine (commonly called Narcan), will be available in every school, pending CMS board approval, Raynard Washington, Mecklenburg health director, told The Charlotte Observer this week.

With the White House charting action in schools nationwide to curb teen drug use and deaths, Charlotte-Mecklenburg leaders plan to stock fentanyl overdose-reversal medicine in hallways.

We are standing by ready to start,” he said.

The Observer first reported on the district’s plan to allow naloxone in schools in September.

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Changes to the Death by Distribution Law

The opioid crisis seems to be getting worse every year. NCDHHS reports that in 2021, over 4,000 North Carolinians died from opioid overdoses, up 22% from the prior year. Most deaths were related to the consumption of fentanyl.

One strategy for addressing the epidemic is punishing those who distribute deadly drugs. In 2019, the General Assembly enacted G.S. 14-18.4, making it a felony to sell a controlled substance that causes the death of a user. The law is commonly known as the death by distribution law. This session, the General Assembly passed a revised version of the law. This post explains the revisions.

The original law. The 2019 law made it a Class C felony to (1) sell a qualifying drug, including an opioid, cocaine, or methamphetamine (2) thereby proximately causing (3) the death of a user. Further, (4) the defendant must have acted “without malice,” perhaps because a person acting with malice could potentially be prosecuted for Class B2 second-degree murder by distribution of drugs under G.S. 14-17(b)(2). The 2019 law also created an aggravated Class B2 felony version of death by distribution for defendants with a qualifying drug conviction within the past seven years.

ABC11 has this story about the implementation of the 2019 law. It reports that death by distribution has not been charged at all in most counties, while it has been charged regularly in some others. Shea wrote about the original law here, and Phil wrote about defending death by distribution cases here.

Status of the revised version. Last week, the General Assembly passed S189 to revise the death by distribution law. It passed the Senate 45-0 and the House 81-20. Governor Cooper has not signed it, but it appears that it will become law without his signature shortly. Obviously, the measure passed by veto-proof majorities in both chambers. Unless something unexpected happens, the law will take effect on December 1, 2023, for offenses committed on or after that date. [Update: Governor Cooper signed the measure on September 28, 2023. The effective date remains December 1, 2023.]

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Vance & Adjacent Counties Fentvic Meetup #7 on 11/5/23


Fentvic Meetup #7 for Vance & Adjacent Counties NC (open to the public)

DateSunday, November 5, from 2-4PM
LocationPentecostal Holiness Church
621 US-158 Bypass
Henderson NC 27536

NC OCME Reports Updated

Fentvic has recieved updated reports from the North Carolina Office of Chief Medical Examiner (OCME). Latest reports can be found here on the Fentvic website.

There were 266 fentanyl-positive deaths in July 2023 compared to 251 in July 2022. Year to date, there is a 6% increase (2,045) compared to this time last year, January to July 2022 (1,926).

Data Source: NC OCME Toxicology data; NC OCME Toxicology is nationally accredited by the American Board of Forensic Toxicology, Inc. NC OCME Toxicology provides forensic analytical testing of specimens for all 100 counties of the statewide medical examiner system. Toxicology results are based on blood, vitreous fluid, or other specimens used for testing at the discretion of the pathologist and/or toxicologist. For additional information regarding these reports, please contact ocme.data.request@dhhs.nc.gov

North Carolina Passes Senate Bill 189 to Strengthen Laws on Death by Distribution

Raleigh, North Carolina- In a significant move aimed at combatting the alarming rise in drug-related fatalities, North Carolina’s General Assembly has passed Senate Bill 189, which has now been signed into law by NC Governor Roy Copper. The legislation, driven by a collaboration between lawmakers and law enforcement agencies, revises existing statutes pertaining to “Death by Distribution” of controlled substances. According to the Bladen County Sheriff’s Department, this crucial step in the fight against drug-related deaths has garnered strong support from the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association, highlighting its high-priority status.

The passage of Senate Bill 189 signifies a collective commitment to addressing the grave consequences of drug distribution, mainly when it results in loss of life. The bill introduces key changes to the existing legal framework.

Among the noteworthy provisions of Senate Bill 189 are:

1. Stricter Penalties: The bill strengthens penalties for individuals found guilty of distributing controlled substances that lead to a fatal overdose. These penalties are intended to serve as a deterrent against drug dealers who knowingly engage in activities that can result in death.

2. Enhanced Law Enforcement Powers: The legislation empowers law enforcement agencies to take more proactive measures in tracking down and prosecuting those responsible for distributing drugs that lead to fatalities. This includes expanded investigatory tools and resources.

3. Increased Accountability: Senate Bill 189 underscores the importance of holding drug dealers accountable for their actions by imposing harsher penalties. This accountability extends not only to those directly involved in distribution but also to individuals associated with the distribution network.

4. Education and Prevention: The bill recognizes the need for a multifaceted approach to address the opioid crisis. It allocates resources for education and prevention programs aimed at reducing the demand for controlled substances and promoting awareness of the dangers associated with their use.

The North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association has been a vocal advocate for Senate Bill 189, emphasizing the critical role that law enforcement plays in safeguarding communities from the devastating impact of drug-related deaths. Their support underscores the urgency of addressing the ongoing opioid crisis, which has claimed countless lives across the state.

As the legislation goes into effect, North Carolina law enforcement agencies will have a more potent set of tools to combat controlled substance distribution, especially when it leads to fatalities. The hope is that these measures will not only serve as a deterrent but also contribute to saving lives and curbing the opioid epidemic.

Members of the public, local news media, and communities are encouraged to review the attached news release for a more comprehensive understanding of the changes brought about by Senate Bill 189. 

Read the full article on the BladenOnline website.

Rockingham County holds town hall on dangers of fentanyl

ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, N.C. — Students, teachers, and parents will attend a town hall Tuesday night in Rockingham County to talk about the dangers of fentanyl. 

It’s a hot topic that’s growing as Rockingham County joins Guilford County on the matter.

Guilford County hosted town halls last spring. The town halls came about after a survey at Northern Guilford High School showed nearly 90% of students said drugs were a problem at school.

Kathleen Smith helped plan that meeting. She’s happy to see more counties doing the same.

“It feels really good, but you don’t want to pat yourself on the back too much as a school community, knowing there’s just so much more work to be done, and you know, the problem is really pervasive. I sat down with some moms and kids not long ago on my back porch and you know, I had this girl who I highly respect, who is in college; she’s just like, ‘Ms. Smith, everybody does it,’ kind of like, get over it, but that’s not what I want. We want to raise our kids to treat their bodies, for the most part, like cathedrals,” Smith said.

Law enforcement officials said fentanyl really ramped up in 2015. They said what used to be a heroin problem is now a fentanyl problem.

Read the full article and watch the video on the WFMY News2 website.

How deeply did prescription opioid pills flood your county? See here.

For the first time, Americans can see the rise — and fall — of legal opioids entering their community. A database maintained by the Drug Enforcement Administration that tracks every single pain pill sold in the United States, tracing the path from manufacturers and distributors to pharmacies in every town and city, is now public through 2019, the tail end of the pain pill crisis.

These records provide an unprecedented look at the surge of legal pain pills that fueled the prescription opioid epidemic, which resulted in more than 210,000 overdose deaths during the 14-year time frame ending in 2019. It also sparked waves of an ongoing and raging opioid crisis first fueled by heroin and then illicit fentanyl.

The Washington Post sifted through 760 million transactions from 2006 through 2019 that are detailed in the DEA’s database and specifically focused on oxycodone and hydrocodone pills, which account for three-quarters of all opioid dosages shipped to pharmacies during that time. The Post is making this data available at the county and state levels to help the public understand the impact of years of prescription pill shipments on their communities.

A county-level analysis shows where the most oxycodone and hydrocodone pills were distributed across the country over that time — more than 145 billion in all.

Read the full article on the Washington Post website (may require subscription).

App State student promotes Narcan accessibility

“Naloxone saves lives!” senior Zoe Lebkuecher typed on each flyer with a Spanish translation under each line along with where students and anyone on campus can find Narcan. 

Lebkuecher’s attendance at a welcome event she found on Engage turned into what is now a passion, spreading Narcan awareness.

Lebkuecher transferred to App State last school year and attended an event hosted by the  Collegiate Recovery Community. Lebkeucher said she has been working with the group ever since because of the community she found.

The university’s Collegiate Recovery Community helps students who are in recovery or wish to be in recovery and provides resources for those who want to support others throughout their recovery journey. The organization holds weekly recovery and community meetings.

Lebkuecher started to find ways to get involved with the Collegiate Recovery Community, which works hand-in-hand with Wellness & Prevention Services on campus.

Read the full article on the App State website.