AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — A total of 378 Maine people died last year from drug overdoses. Because of that disturbing statistic, a state senator wants to get tougher on drug dealers.
Sen. Scott Cyrway, R-Benton, says he wants a dealer who furnishes the drug to those who died from overdoses to be charged with manslaughter. He says he has seen too many drug deaths, and some of them hit close to home.
Greg Lambert, Jr. was a marine who developed medical problems that led to a drug addiction. Finally, there was a fatal overdose. The young man's father, Greg Lumbert Sr. is a deputy sheriff in Kennebec County, with whom Sen. Cyrway used to work with. The father says the drug dealer was never charged with a crime in the death, even though he was present when the overdose happened, and Lumbert Sr.'s son died.
"What I’d like to say is there’s no difference between these people and ISIS," he said. "It's just a different method. They need to be stopped.
Cyrway's bill would make selling or furnishing drugs that cause the user to die a Class A crime.
"It's very similar to a bartender giving too much alcohol to someone and they die," said Cyrway. "They’re held responsible. This is very similar to that."
But two attorneys, including a representative of the Maine Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys, say the proposed law isn't needed. They said Maine's current manslaughter law can already be used for specific cases where drugs cause an OD death. They also said other existing laws for aggravated trafficking in drugs and aggravated furnishing of drugs can also be applied if the user dies, and that they carry Class A and Class B penalties, respectively.
Kennebec County District Attorney Meaghan Maloney said the manslaughter charge in drug cases is rare because the charges are hard to prove, often because the victim has taken several drugs.
But Cyrway said Maine must take strong steps to show it won't tolerate the number of deaths and other harm being inflicted by the drug crisis.