Proposal would expand ‘Social Host Law’ to include all drugs

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – There’s a push in the Erie County Legislature to crack down on parents who allow drug-use under their roof. Lawmakers are hoping an amended law can be a piece of the answer in the fight against opioids.

The Social Host Law was initially passed in Erie County in 2014. It specifically targets parents who allow minors to drink alcohol in their homes.

Republican Erie County Legislator Lynne Dixon, who represents Hamburg, wants to expand the law to cover all drugs, including opioids.

Officials at the Erie County Council for the Prevention of Alcohol and Substance Abuse are on board with the idea.

“We have found that there’s a great need for expansion that includes other illicit drugs,” said ECCPASA Executive Director Robin Mann.

Currently, under the Social Host Law, if an adult knowingly allows anyone under the age of 21 to drink alcohol under their roof, they can be punished. The penalty for a first offense is a $250 fine. A second offense warrants a $500 fine. A third offense is punishable by a $1,000 fine, a year in jail, or both. Under Legislator Dixon’s proposal, the punishments would also apply to parents who allow drug-use.

“I can’t say they’re allowing it to happen, but I think they’re aware of it,” said Town of Hamburg Police Chief Gregory Wickett. “We call them enablers. People who maybe don’t do everything they can to stop it.”

“If they’re allowing this to happen under their roof, there will be punishment,” Dixon said. They will have to answer for their crime.”

Four years ago, the original law had near-unanimous support. Legislator Dixon said she doesn’t see any problems passing this proposal.

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