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Coroner calls for tougher laws against heroin

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BATON ROUGE - Twice as many people have overdosed on heroin this year compared to last according to East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner Dr. Beau Clark.

He recently met with legislators to discuss increasing the prison sentence for offenders caught selling heroin.

"What the legislature would consider is redoing the law and maybe it only deals with distribution of heroin as opposed to a blanket distribution of schedule ones," Clark said.

In 2010, the mandatory minimum sentence for selling marijuana, heroin and LSD dropped to five to thirty years. That same year, the prescription monitoring program cut down on doctor shopping for highly-addictive prescription drugs like oxycontin. Clark said the price increase for prescription drugs sent habitual users back to cheaper heroin.

"Certainly it's not controlled by the FDA like medicines you take over the counter, so you don't know necessarily what you're getting when you get it. And if you consume the same volume of something that's more potent, there's a potential of an immediate fatal overdose at that point," Clark said.

In 2012, the coroner's office investigated five fatal heroin overdoses. So far this year, Clark said his office picked up nine, and toxicology results are pending for another suspected four.

Clark said he would like to see changes made during next legislative session.


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