State legislation targets emergence of street drug, xylazine

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With the re-emergence of xylazine as a street drug that is doing quite a bit of harm to Hoosiers, lawmakers are working to get ahead of the situation by establishing a criminal code on how to prosecute cases revolving around it.
In the case of a bill doing just that, which passed the House and is now being discussed in the Senate, lawmakers are hoping to lay the groundwork for offenders using and dealing the drugs to be prosecuted.
Initially, the bill had bipartisan support as it would punish Hoosiers for simple possession of xylazine. That would result in a Class A misdemeanor, but if you are caught with it a second time after having been convicted it would make the second offense a Level 6 felony, which means prison time.
On Monday, state senators discussed an amendment brought forth by State Sen. Aaron Freeman (R-Indianapolis), which would punish the dealers of xylazine even more harshly.
Democrats seem to have been on board with the bill up to this point. State Sen. Rodney Pol (D-Chesterton), who in the grand scheme of things has been supportive of the bill, spoke against Freeman’s amendment.
His concerns had to do with people busted for possession of xylazine who may otherwise not know they are in possession of it.
“A user could be guilty of possession without even knowing they are in possession of xylizine,” Pol said to Freeman.
“You’ve just made a compelling case for every young person to never use drugs because you don’t know what’s in them,” Freeman retorted.
Pol feels that the system of prosecuting people for possession of drugs is fundamentally flawed.
“The issue is is our criminal justice system, and the way our laws are written, it’s like ‘if you get caught with this, you are getting this’,” Pol said. “That’s not how things work today.”
Freeman explained a few times that his amendment targets dealers, and that the overall bill, which Pol voted in favor of in committee, targets those in possession of it.
State Senate minority leader Greg Taylor took issue with the amendment asking why it wasn’t brought up in committee. He feels Republicans are trying to skirt the rules of due process by trying to enhance the bill without following proper protocol.
The amendment ended up passing on a party-line vote in the bill’s second reading. Since that amendment passed the bill has to go back to the House for approval in its new form.

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