Heroin bill to increase penalties for dealers

(WSYX/WTTE)

A Dublin couple whose son died of a heroin overdose is speaking out in favor of increasing penalties for dealers. They testified on behalf of House Bill 171 at the Ohio Statehouse on Wednesday. Proponents said we need to target heroin dealers who are getting people hooked.

Cheryl and Todd Lacksonen said their son Christopher Bahr died last year at age 22 from a heroin overdose. Bahr graduated from Dublin Gerome High School and played football there and for a time in college. Lacksonen said her son took opiates following football injuries. But Lacksonen said they believe dealers laced marijuana with heroin to hook their customers, and eventually their son.

"We gave him a great home life living in Dublin , Ohio which is supposed to be a very safe community , great education, great sports and somehow the wheels fell off," said Todd.

"I don't want any other family to get the phone call that we received September 1, 2014 that our son had passed away from drug addiction," said Cheryl. "I don't care if you have been through rehab once or ten times, you are addicted forever, you can't shake it, you are always, what they call chasing the dragon."

The Lacksonens testified before the Senate Criminal Justice Committee about the bill that would reduce the amount of heroin needed to charge a dealer with a first degree felony from 2,500 to 1,000 doses.

The co-sponsor of the bill Rep. Jonathon Dever (R-Cincinnati) said heroin dealers know they are destroying lives. "This is a very serious thing where people are getting addicted and dying,and they are doing it with a purpose intent, malice of forethought. we have to do something to tell these folks this is no longer acceptable," said Dever. "Once they've got you on it, you are a life time customer and you are most likely going to overdose at some point in time, they are preying on people and they understand that."

The Lacksonens said they plan to participate in a Town Hall on heroin abuse at the Dublin Community Center next Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. They want people to know heroin isn't just an inner city issue.

"I don't care if you are in Dublin schools, Olentangy, Upper Artlington, this issue is here and now and we are trying to do what we can to raise awareness about what drug use and abuse looks like. There is not any silver bullet ,one-stop answer will take care of this problem, it is nipping around the edges trying to in the total solve this problem, increasing penalties would be one , raising awareness at the school is another, having parents really take a hard look at this issue as well as having conversations about the dangers and pitfalls of drug abuse," said Todd Lacksonen.

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