Advocacy groups in North Carolina and around the country may be familiar with Henry T. Nicholas III and his efforts to pass legislation protecting crime victims. Nicholas was inspired to action by a 1983 case involving a California student who was murdered by her stalker, but the 59-year-old technology billionaire now finds himself on the wrong side of the law. Nicholas was taken into custody on Aug. 7 by police in Las Vegas on drug possession and trafficking charges.
Researchers say that reducing penalties for drug possession in North Carolina and elsewhere could lead to a reduction in racial disparities in the court system. It could also cause an indirect reduction in health disparities.
North Carolina residents who provide drugs to someone who dies of an overdose could be charged with homicide. Increasingly, law enforcement in many states is cracking down on these drug providers using laws from the 1980s that were intended to go after crack cocaine dealers. Opponents of this crackdown say that those targeted are not drug dealers and that these types of prosecution do not deter addicts. Furthermore, they could actually increase overdose death rates since some people have been prosecuted after calling for medical aid.