Randy Abbott seethed with anger after his 24-year-old daughter, Vanessa, died of an overdose at a North Carolina house party eight years ago. His idea of justice was “for everybody to go to jail forever.”
But today, Abbott doesn’t believe that users who share lethal drugsshould be prosecuted for the resulting deaths. In Vanessa’s case, that person was a childhood friend, herself in the throes of addiction. “She lives every day with the fact she lost her best friend,” Abbott said.
His view is part of an emotional debate unfolding in state legislatures across the country, as lawmakers move to crack down on drug crimes in response to growing anger and fearover the toll of a drug crisis killing thousands every month. In North Carolina, one of at least a dozen states this year that haveconsidered tougher drug penalties, the Senate recently passed a measure thatwould expand prosecutors’ ability to bring felony charges againstanyone who gives a lethal dose of fentanyl.
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