Ohio bill lowers amount of heroin needed for maximum penalty

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Ohio lawmakers are considering a bill that would decrease the amount of heroin found in a person’s possession that triggers maximum punishment under state law.

The proposal lowers the amount from 250 grams to 100 grams, which includes a maximum prison sentence of up to 11 years if convicted and having the defendant classified as a major drug offender.

Supporters say the bill is needed to address the state’s growing heroin epidemic.

The Ohio House approved the measure last year. The Senate Criminal Justice Committee scheduled a hearing Wednesday.

The most recent state data say a record 1,177 people died of heroin-related overdoses in 2014.

The State Public Defender’s Office, which opposes the bill, said lawmakers should focus instead on improving treatment and addiction services.

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