Knoxville mother pushes tougher penalties for drug dealers after son's overdose death

A Knoxville mother hopes to help other families with Henry's Law, which would make penalties stiffer for drug dealers who distribute drugs to minors and are charged with second-degree murder.

A mother is pushing state lawmakers to save other families from suffering the same fate as her son.

Henry Granju was 18 when he died in 2010 from an opioid overdose.

His parents sent him to rehab multiple times, but Granju couldn't escape his addiction.

His mom is calling for changes in the law to increase the time behind bars for drug dealers who target minors.

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"When Henry died seven years ago there wasn't very much awareness," Granju's mother, Katie Allison, said.

While Tennessee's problem with opioids continues to evolve, Allison is hoping punishments for drug dealers will as well.

"It only made sense that if they give the drug directly to our children, then we should have advanced sentencing for that," Allison said.

House Bill 1936 calls for stiffer prison sentences for people convicted of second degree murder charges by distributing drugs.

The bill's alternate name has more meaning -- Henry's law.

"People in Tennessee need to take a stand and say drug dealers will not prey on our children," Allison said.

Boys like Henry--who loved to play guitar and hang out with friends.

"No one believes their son or child will ever grow up to be a drug addict," Allison said.

But the unimaginable did happen.

"He became addicted to pills when he was about seventeen," Allison said.

Allison says the drug dealers who gave him the pills watched him overdose.

"He suffered brain damage that killed him," Allison said.

When state representative Jason Zachary from Knoxville heard his story, he decided to sponsor the bill.

"When you can put a face with it, it really brings the problem to a new light, and I think that's what this law will do," Zachary said.

Allison hopes the bill will pass this session.

"We need to keep drug dealers away from our children and that's what this is all about," Allison said.

Lawmakers filed the bill Thursday.

Senate sponsor Becky Duncan Massey sent 10News a statement, saying:

Since being elected to office, I have worked to fight Tennessee’s opioid crisis. Hearing Henry’s story about addiction, I knew that laws need to be strengthened to fight against drug dealers. It is reprehensive that drug dealers pray on our youth. I am committed to continue doing everything I can on this issue that has taken over our community.

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