VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Del. Jason Miyares (R-Virginia Beach) co-sponsored a bill that would enable a charge of felony murder against drug dealers who sell drugs that cause a fatal overdose.
It passed the House of Delegates 69-30, the Senate 40-0.
And then Governor Ralph Northam vetoed it. His statement says it would charge someone with murder even if the overdose occurred days or even months after the user received the drugs.
“For him not to give law enforcement the tools that they are begging us for to go after these drug dealers that are poisoning our kids, I just find it stunning and a sad day for Virginia,” Miyares said in a Friday interview.
Miyares is a former Virginia Beach prosecutor, and says he has seen the devastation from heroin and other opioids especially when dealers spike them with fentanyl.
“When the word gets out on the street that someone has overdosed, well then (people will think) that person must have the pure product. So it actually creates a perverse market incentive.”
Northam says the bill went too far — and would punish those who themselves are struggling with addiction.
It’s too late for lawmakers to override the veto, because the veto session ran out April 3. Miyares says he’ll introduce similar legislation next year.
“We have so many families that have been shattered by this.”