New Iowa Law to Boost Penalties for Heroin-Related Convictions

DES MOINES, IA (Radio Iowa) The governor has signed a bill into law that will increase the penalties for those convicted of making, possessing or selling heroin to be the same as for similar crimes involving meth. Representative Ross Paustian is a Republican from Walcott.

“Heroin addition and overdoses are a growing problem across Iowa that must be addressed in multiple ways,” Paulstian said. “Treatment alone won’t stop the spread of this dangerous. Heroin dealers must face meaningful penalties to keep them off the streets.” Representative Kristin Sunde, a Democrat from West Des Moines, says heroin is particularly problematic right now, especially when it’s laced with fentanyl.

“There are going to be higher consequences if they’re caught dealing,” Sunde says. “I think that’s fair enough and I think it’s one way to try to make some difference here.” The bill would make those caught with 100 grams or more of heroin eligible for a 50 year prison sentence. Under current law, someone would have to be caught with a ten times that much — at least a kilogram of heroin — to get that stiff a sentence. Twenty-five Democrats in the legislature opposed the bill. Representative Ras (like “Ross”) Smith of Waterloo says more work must be done to reduce heroin use.

“Our goal should be to not only make sure that we punish those who are flooding our streets with heroin, but also work to save lives,” Smith says. Representative Ako Abdul-Samad, a Democrat from Des Moines, says putting a serious dent in the heroin trade requires treatment for addicts.

“We want to get heroin off the street. We want to get the heroin dealers off the street without a doubt, but we also need to do it comprehensively,” Abdul-Samad said. “We need to address is so we’re also dealing with the addict. The key is the dealers will be in business as long as there’s a customer.” The bill passed the House and Senate in March and will go into effect on July 1st. It was among 26 bills Governor Kim Reynolds approved yesterday (Monday).