Legal Risk of Drug Sharing. Worse than You Think

Can you be held legally responsible for the death of someone you gave or sold a drug? A New York City drug dealer got 5 years in prison for furnishing cocaine to Kiersten Cerveny, M.D., a 38-year-old dermatologist and mother of three, who, for whatever reason, went with a boyfriend on a binge with cocaine and booze. The story is reported by New Jersey Advance Media.

This is a very sad outcome for Dr. Cerveny and her family. It shows how ignorance, even among some doctors, about the dangers of combining drugs can kill you.  Generally speaking, neither drug, used alone, is life threatening, but combining the two can be tragic.

There is another object lesson here, though, that every drug user should keep in mind. If you share a drug with another person, friend, or stranger, whether you sell it or give it to them, you could be charged with criminal liability for causing an unexpected injury—or death.

The lawyer for the dealer argued that Dr. Cerveny was a victim of her own poor choices. That was likely true, but she was not the only actor in the matter. The dealer supplied the lethal combination in his own apartment when her friend brought her there. The court ruled that he and the friend contributed to the causation of death and both would have to pay for it with jail time.

Both can also be sued by the family for the wrongful death of this young mother. Legal damages will likely be in the millions.

Those who use drugs, whether affluent and liable to lose a lot of money in a lawsuit, or poor and “judgment proof,” must think twice before sharing drugs with others.

© All rights reserved to Dave Finch 7/12/2017

Visit Reform Drug Policy Project for useful articles on drug policies and laws.

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