The Alabama House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill that would add potent opioid painkillers like fentanyl and Carfentanil to the list of scheduled drugs, creating harsher penalties for dealers, smugglers and traffickers of the deadly drugs. The bill now moves to the senate.
Barry Matson, executive director of the Alabama District Attorneys Association, calls the legislation a critical piece in stopping the flow of “poison” into the state.
Fentanyl is a painkiller used in opioid-tolerant patients with pain severe enough to require daily, around-the-clock, long-term treatment, such as cancer patients. It is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine. Carfentanil, a synthetic form of Fentanyl, is intended as an elephant tranquilizer and is a thousand times stronger than fentanyl. Both of these drugs have weaved their way into cities across the country, killing thousands in their wake.
The bill calls for a one-year minimum prison term for possessing heroin or fentanyl. Those trafficking 10 or more kilos of heroin or fentanyl would receive the maximum penalty – a mandatory sentence of life without parole.
The bill does not apply to fentanyl or other drugs that a doctor prescribes for pain management.
“We’re talking about synthetic fentanyl drugs that are manufactured in terrible conditions in China and then smuggled into this country,” Matson said. “Most of the deaths that we’re seeing now, the number of fentanyl deaths, are on the rise. The Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences also says the number of fentanyl deaths around the state are on the rise. Sometimes it’s pure fentanyl, sometimes heroin is laced with it. It’s a mix.”