As part of his commitment to improve public health, Governor Pat Quinn today signed a new law to stiffen penalties for the sale of heroin and flavored wrapping paper. The new law lowers the threshold for mandatory imprisonment for the sale of heroin from five grams to three grams, and bans flavored wrapping paper which is often marketed to young people. This issue has been considered by the General Assembly for several years, and a similar proposal was introduced by then-State Sen. Barack Obama.
"One overdose victim is one too many in Illinois," Governor Quinn said. "These products are a public health menace and this new law will help keep people away from illegal substance abuse."
Sponsored by Rep. Dennis Reboletti (R-Addison) and Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago), House Bill 3801 is supported by the Illinois Attorney General, Cook County State's Attorney and Illinois State's Attorneys Association. Recent studies have shown a dramatic increase in heroin overdoses throughout Illinois, based on hospital admissions, treatment center statistics and arrest records. Roosevelt University's Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy found in 2011 that heroin usage in the collar counties has increased 200 percent in 10 years.
"This is a scourge afflicting communities across the state of Illinois," Sen. Raoul said. "I am pleased that we are giving law enforcement two additional tools to combat drug use."
The new law also bans the sale of non-menthol flavored wrapping paper, also known as blunt wraps. These cigar wrappers are commonly used to roll illicit drugs such as marijuana, PCP and crack cocaine. With flavors such as chocolate chip and banana, the product is marketed by tobacco companies and other manufacturers to young people and children.
"I have seen first-hand the toll heroin takes on young people here in the suburbs," said Rep. Reboletti, a former narcotics prosecutor who serves on the advisory board of Serenity House, a halfway house in Addison. "We are putting dealers of even small quantities on notice: you will go to prison."
The new law takes effective immediately.