State House follows Senate’s lead, approves stiffer fentanyl penalties

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Following the State Senate’s lead, the Alabama House of Representatives on Thursday voted to stiffen penalties for trafficking a powerful synthetic opioid, fentanyl.

Lawmakers voted 89-2 in favor of the bill.

Fentanyl has caused fatal overdoses across the United States. Sometimes added to heroin or cocaine without the user knowing, fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than heroin and morphine, and can kill those who come in contact with even minuscule amounts of it. Many in law enforcement and the health care industry believe it is drug catalyst of the national opioid epidemic.

Sponsored by Alabaster-Republican State Sen. Cam WardSB39 stipulates that a person will be convicted of trafficking if they possess more than a gram of fentanyl or 50 packages of a fentanyl mixture.

The bill also sets minimum mandatory sentences based on the weight of drug be carried.

It bill moves back to the Senate for a vote on whether to concur with the House changes.

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