Okla. House approves designer drug death measure

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - The Oklahoma House has approved legislation that would allow first-degree murder charges against the makers and dealers of synthetic drugs if fatal overdoses occur.

The measure passed Thursday on an 89-1 vote and was sent to the Senate for consideration of House amendments.

The bill expands the definition of first-degree murder to include deaths resulting from the manufacture or distribution of a synthetic drug. First-degree murder is punishable by death or life in prison with or without the possibility of parole.

The measure's author, Rep. Tom Newell of Seminole, says he was saddened by the deaths of Stacy Jewell and Andrew Ackerman, both East Central University students, last year after they used a designer drug purchased on the internet. Current law does not provide for a first-degree murder charge against the drug's supplier. Cody Weddle is charged with second degree murder in their deaths.

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