State Representatives Wes Retherford (R-Hamilton) and Margaret Conditt (R-Liberty Twp.) today announced that they have introduced legislation that will increase the penalties for those who knowingly sell illegal substances to pregnant women.

The legislation will increase the penalties as such:

  • Schedule I and II drugs increased to a 1st degree felony with mandatory prison.  These drugs include: Heroin, LSD, cocaine, methadone, oxycodone, amphetamine, etc.

  • Schedule III-V drugs will be a 2nd degree felony with mandatory prison time.  Some examples of Schedule III-V drugs: Buprenorphine, anabolic steroids, glutethimide, codeine cough preparations, chloral hydrate, etc.

  • Marijuana will be subject to 3rd degree felony penalties.

“Every day in America, over 37 babies are born addicted to drugs. That’s almost one every half an hour,” said Rep. Retherford. “We have made great strides in fighting drug abuse, but it is time to go after the suppliers.  Dealers who knowingly sell to women who are pregnant should not only face penalties for selling to the mother, but additional penalties for supplying drugs to the innocent child growing inside her.  We need to step up and defend the defenseless.”

With opiate and other drug addiction becoming an epidemic in Ohio, the bill seeks to further address and solve the debilitating issue affecting citizens across the state. Specifically, the number of pregnant women receiving treatment for drug use has increased 83% from 2004 to 2011.  Treating newborns with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome takes a heavy toll on Ohio’s healthcare systems, with $70 million in charges and 19,000 days in Ohio hospitals in 2011.

Rep. Conditt said, “Protecting Ohio’s unborn is a top priority for me.  This is a pro-life issue, and tougher measures must be created for those who recklessly sell harmful and illegal drugs to pregnant women.  The statistics of drug abuse in Ohio are too high to ignore, and this bill is another step in the right direction to combat this crisis.”

Increasing the penalties for such offenses seeks to deter offenders from continuing to sell illegal drugs and substances to pregnant women, putting the lives of the woman and her child at risk.

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