‘Henry’s Law’ Increases Jail Time for Dealers

Knoxville News Sentinel USA TODAY NETWORK TENNESSEE

A new law that took effect Sunday will mean stiffer penalties for some drug dealers who sell to minors — and it carries the name of an East Tennessee teenager whose overdose death turned his mother into a fierce advocate. “Henry’s Law” is named for Henry Granju, son of city of Knoxville employee Chris Granju and local blogger Katie Allison. Sponsored by Sen. Becky Duncan Massey and Rep. Jason Zachary, the bill — SB1875 and HB1936 — allows for more jail time for drug dealers or others who knowingly sell or give Schedule I or II drugs to those younger than 18 if the children then die from taking them. Granju was 18 at the time of his death in 2010 but younger when he became addicted to drugs, Allison has said. His parents sent him to rehabilitation programs for his addiction, but he checked himself out when he turned 18, she said. If a minor dies from taking such a drug in Tennessee, it’s second-degree murder, a Class A felony. Before the new law passed, someone charged with second-degree murder under that circumstance could be sentenced to 15-25 years — but actually serve only 30 percent, 4.5 to 7.5 years. Under Henry’s Law, that same Class A felony becomes a higher offense, and those convicted must serve at least 35 percent of a 25-to-40-year sentence.

“This was a tragic case,” Massey said. “Those who peddle drugs to our youth should face greater consequences, and this bill ensures that these predators who kill will serve more time behind bars.”

Schedule I drugs include heroin, LSD, “mushrooms” and other psychedelic drugs. Opioids, cocaine, methadone, methamphetamines and amphetamines are Schedule II drugs. In Tennessee, 70-80 minors a year die from opioid overdoes, the state reports. On July 1, Allison blogged that she was “weepy” about the law taking effect. “Henry’s Law provides investigators and district attorneys with a powerful new tool in their toolbox for fighting back against the reckless opiate distributors in our communities, including drug dealing physicians,” she said in an earlier blog post.

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