SC bill aims to keep illegal prescription pills off street, offenders in jail longer

CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – A new bill in the South Carolina Statehouse would give a harsher sentence to people trafficking some prescription pills.

Fifteenth Judicial Circuit Solicitor, Jimmy Richardson, joined with legislators to come up with the bill and said it will help in the fight against heroin.

“Everyone thinks, well, Horry County has a terrible opiate problem. And it does, but it’s a national problem,” said Richardson.

Right now, if you are caught with opioid painkillers like OxyContin you’re only charged with possession.

“That’s really a slap on the wrist. I think the most you can get for possession is six months,” added Richardson.

The bill was drafted by looking at how other communities are keeping up with drug trafficking.

“Communities have already struggled with this. Florida and several other states have changed their laws so we went and looked at what they were doing to get rid of these mass amounts of pills,” said Richardson.

The bill would charge someone with those illegal prescription pain pills with trafficking instead of possession.

“You would be charged under the same statue, same sentencing range as heroin,” said Richardson.

A first offense, which means having four grams or more, but less than 14 grams would mean a minimum of seven years in jail and a $50,000 fine.

A second offense would mean a minimum sentence of 25 years in jail and a $100,000 fine.

Someone found with 14-28 grams would receive a sentence of 25 years in jail and a $200,000 fine.

Anything other 28 grams means 25-40 years in jail and a $200,000 fine.

“It will allow us to get the traffickers because those pills will eventually lead to heroin there’s no way for it not to,” said Richardson, who hopes this new bill will keep the pills off the street and the dealers in jail.

“Even though it’s not going to be an immediate effect, you’ll see just by this one bill, it’s probably going to go as far to help alleviate future addiction problems than any bill they can come up with,” said Richardson.

The bill was referred to the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.