by Jennie Taer
Several states are advocating for harsher fentanyl penalties as overdose deaths surge in the U.S.
Nevada, Oregon, Alabama, Texas, West Virginia and South Carolina have all pushed to increase the length of sentences for fentanyl dealers, according to the Associated Press. Fentanyl is largely responsible for the more than 100,000 drug overdose deaths that occurred in 2021 up from 93,331 drug overdose deaths in 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“There is no other drug — no other illicit drug — that has the same type of effects on our communities,” Mark Jackson, the district attorney for Douglas County, Nevada, and president of the Nevada District Attorneys Association, said, according to the AP.
Nevada’s Democratic-controlled legislature has also pushed for stricter punishments when it comes to fentanyl. The state’s Democratic attorney general, Aaron Ford, who previously supported lessening penalties, has also backed a bill that would give fentanyl dealers up to 20 years in prison for selling, possessing, manufacturing or transporting 4 or more grams of the illicit narcotic into Nevada.
A dose of just two milligrams of fentanyl is considered to be lethal, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
“What we’ve learned is that lowering the thresholds for all drugs was overinclusive,” Ford said.
State lawmakers in Oregon and West Virginia pushed for similar action. Republican Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey called on her state’s legislature in March to pass a bill that would toughen sentences for fentanyl traffickers.
In Texas, the state legislature recently passed a bill to charge fentanyl dealers who kill their clients with murder.
Senators in South Carolina’s legislature also passed a bill to force alleged drug dealers responsible for overdose deaths to face homicide charges, according to the AP.
Illicit fentanyl is made in clandestine labs in Mexico using chemicals from China, according to the DEA.
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Jennie Taer is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation.
Photo “Fentanyl” by National Institute on Drug Abuse.