Combatting opioid crisis

The Senate has taken another major step in combatting the opioid overdose epidemic by passing legislation to treat the deadly drug Fentanyl as seriously as heroin.

Senate Bill 199 creates a Class 1 felony penalty structure for the possession of Fentanyl and Fentanyl analogs, targeted at illegal dealers and suppliers of the drug. The goal is to put Fentanyl offenses on the same level as heroin, and to help prosecute those who are engaged in the illegal manufacturing and trade of the deadly drug.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid originally developed as a painkiller. Experts say the drug is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. Fentanyl is now the drug most frequently involved in overdose deaths in the United States, according to a 2018 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Senate Bill 199 is currently awaiting action in the House after being passed by a unanimous vote in the Senate.

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