As the number of drug overdoses in North Carolina and across the country continue to climb, state lawmakers rolled out a second piece of legislation aimed at curbing the flow of prescription opioids into the illegal drug market.
The Heroin and Opioid Prevention and Enforcement (HOPE) Act aims to give law enforcement more tools to stop the diversion of prescription pills by allowing expanded access to the Controlled Substance Reporting System, which tracks the identifying information of people who are prescribed opioids.
The HOPE Act also makes it a class G felony for a first responder or home health worker to steal a patient’s medication, on par with robbery. And it would create a class E felony for any health care provider to steal a patient’s medication by diluting it or replacing it with a drug other than the one the patients were prescribed. Other class E felonies include child abuse and assault with a deadly weapon.
“As sad as it is, we have some bad actors in the medical field who have by their deeds fueled this crisis,” said Rep. Greg Murphy (R-Greenville) during the press rollout of the bill. “It is tragic that we have to put this into legislation … These activities are rare, but we have to seal every door and stem every breach that allows this crisis to continue.”