By: Chloe Leshner


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) -- Legislation that could put a life sentence on the table for drug dealers who provide a fatal dose is one step closer to law. "Kristen's Law" passed in the House Judiciary Committee tonight but not everyone is on board.
The key players here all agree they need to pass legislation to curb the opioid epidemic but they don't agree on what's the best approach. Wednesday one approach, "Kristen's Law," passed in committee but there's still a very vocal group urging the Governor to veto it if and when it reaches her desk.

Dealers who provide a drug that causes a deadly overdose could now face much stiffer penalties. "Kristen's Law" making it through the House Judiciary Committee in a 10–6 vote.

"It's something that we have to address as a society, we're having too many deaths," says Representative Carol Hagan McEntee.

"Kristen's Law" is named for Kristen Coutu who died of a fetynal overdose. It's intent is to hold drug dealers more accountable for their role in deadly overdoses. "Kristen's Law" would give judges the option to hand down a life sentence.

"It's terrible. It's a very tough situation and this is just another tool. So hopefully the prosecutors will use their discretion on how to enforce this and also the judge will use discretion," says Hagan McEntee.

The committee members who voted against it voicing concerns it will mostly catch low level drug dealers.

"The law is crafted with a wide enough net where it will go after the traffickers but I think it has such a wide net that it's going to go after the addicts," says Representative Blake Filippi.

There's also concern it would keep people from calling police if a friend is overdosing. In an effort to get around that, this includes a good Samaritan law which would protect the person who called  from jail time.

Despite that change, a group of addiction experts don't  believe that's  enough and this is not a step in the right direction.

"What got passed today is more of the same. It's been proven to be ineffective if anything it can have a negative impact on chances of recovery for people," says Haley McKee, a Providence resident who's been in recovery for 5 years and is against this bill.

Critics would like to see specific language that targets the person who laces the fatal drug with synthetic opioids.
The full house will vote on "Kristen's Law" next week.

(C) WLNE/ABC 6 2018