Local mom hopes drug dealers involved in fatal overdoses face same sentences as those charged with murder

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GREENSBORO, N.C. — Will drug dealers in North Carolina face tougher charges? Should they?

Lawmakers across the country are looking at treating fatal overdoses the same way as murder and manslaughter.

In North Carolina, 445 people were rushed to the emergency room in January 2019 for opioid overdoses.

In the Triad, Rockingham and Davidson counties have the highest rates of overdose emergency room visits.

One Greensboro mom says the state needs to crack down on the people providing those drugs.

“The harder we make it for people selling drugs, I think the better,” Sallie Kelton said.

Kelton suffers every day. She knows nothing will bring back her son Griffin.

“About 1:30 in the morning, the police knocked on our door,” she recalled. “Griffin died of an overdose in his dorm room.”

It’s been almost four years since the 20-year-old passed away, but Kelton still has one question: Who sold her son the drugs that killed him?

“It would give me some peace,” she said.

The Keltons aren’t the only victims of the opioid crisis.

More than five North Carolinians died every day in 2017 from unintentional overdoses.

That number keeps rising.

So what is being done about it?

Twenty states already have laws that convict drug dealers, who deal that deadly dose, with the same sentence as murder.

In North Carolina, a person can face second degree murder charges if they illegally give someone an opiate, cocaine, methamphetamine, depressant or other drug and that drug causes their death under G.S. 14-17(b)(2).

Kelton hopes North Carolina will start using that law to prosecute.

“Why does it take so long to decide that someone killed someone else? And that someone has given or sold a product that will potentially kill someone?” she said.

Kelton hopes with laws like these, families can be spared the pain her family feels every day.

“It would bring me some peace to know that the person who sold my child the drugs that killed him wasn’t on the street anymore,” she said.

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