“Taylor’s Law,” a good proposal but flawed

by Braydon Iverson

Taylor Martinek, a collegiate football player at Portland State University, underwent several shoulder surgeries and was prescribed the opioid Oxycontin in an attempt to cope with the pain. This unfortunately led him down the dark path of becoming addicted to the drug, using it unnecessarily. After 4 years of addiction, on January of 2017, Taylor was found dead in his apartment, overdosed on Oxycontin tablets laced with the other infamous killer opioid fentanyl.

Those who were investigated and convicted as the dealers of said drugs were given light sentences and probation, as no law in Oregon able to devote any harsher punishment. The parents of Taylor plan to change that, pushing House Bill 2797, or “Taylor’s Law”, to a public hearing in Salem on March 7th.

The bill proposes a minimum five year prison sentence to dealers whose product results in the death of a buyer of theirs, with a maximum of eleven years given the convicted dealers previous criminal record. At first glance this proposal would seem rational to give justice to the victims of a bad deal.

However complications arise with a law so black and white for a situation that is anything but. For example, should the dealer who personally delivered the drugs to the buyer be at fault, or rather the culprit that supplied the dealer in the first place? There may be little way to determine which person delivered the fatal dose.

Furthermore, if the dealer gave the buyer an amount not to be taken all at once, made the buyer aware of this, yet the buyer overdoses on a dose the dealer told them not to take, should the dealer still be blamed for the buyer’s death?

Morally this proposed law is more than justifiable, in fact it’s concerning that to this point there aren’t more laws similar to it in place. Still, there need to be adjusted exceptions to Taylor’s Law before it can be used to lock the right criminals away.

Opioid dealers could soon be found liable for addicts’ deaths. (Photo Courtesy of KPTV.com)

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