House passes bill protecting recovering addicts from drug traffickers

State Rep. Theresa Gavarone, R-Bowling Green, has announced passage of legislation she sponsored by the Ohio House of Representatives. House Bill 296 increases penalties for certain drug offense crimes, when they are committed at or near a community addiction services provider and if the offender recklessly disregards the close proximity of the crime and the addiction services provider. The increased penalties mirror those in current law for drug trafficking offenses committed near a school or a juvenile.

“Drug dealers are all too often waiting in the parking lot, across the street or around the block of a rehab facility to target this vulnerable population,” said Gavarone. “Getting these people off the street and away from these areas will give those seeking treatment for their drug addiction even greater odds for success.”

The bill seeks to create greater penalties for drug dealers who prey on recovering addicts brave enough to enter or stay at an addiction services facility. As Ohio has led the nation in drug overdose death rates, this legislation strives to protect vulnerable individuals who are attempting to pull themselves out of the rapid, downward spiral of opioid abuse.

House Bill 296 is the 10th bill sponsored by Rep. Gavarone that the House has passed in this General Assembly, and it is the third bill passed that she has sponsored addressing the opioid crisis. Having passed out of the House, the bill now awaits consideration by the Ohio Senate.