It was the first time someone dropped of drug paraphernalia since Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Neil, prosecutors and a top judge agreed to offer immunity to those who do so.
The sheriff reported Tuesday that someone brought in two hypodermic needles, nine crack pipes, five plastic straws containing drug residue, a tool to pack and clean pipes and a scouring pad used for drug instruments.
The individual brought the items to the Anderson Township sheriff’s office early Sunday and told officials that they belonged to a friend of his, who is getting addiction treatment.
The event is a signal to others to feel safe in surrendering drugs and drug paraphernalia, in what Neil calls an effort to help people get into drug treatment. Those dropping off drugs and paraphernalia will not face criminal drug charges in Hamilton County.
Neil proposed the immunity idea, and got the support of Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters, who filed a motion in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court on Sept. 7. Judge Robert Ruehlman, the court’s presiding and administrative judge, signed the motion. The Hamilton County Heroin Coalition, including the county coroner, Dr. Lakshmi Sammarco, support the effort.
“When we offered this option to the public, this is exactly what we hoped would happen,” Neil said in a statement. “The addict is in a treatment program, the friend is helping their loved one get clean, and we’ve taken drugs and drug paraphernalia off the streets.”
The effort is among continuing initiatives nationwide to decriminalize addiction and encourage treatment from those who are addicted in the face of an opioid and heroin epidemic. Efforts to stiffen sentences for drug traffickers instead of those addicted are also gaining steam.