House members took action this week to address the growing problem of fentanyl abuse in the state. Lawmakers approved legislation to create stiff penalties for trafficking the synthetic opioid pain reliever the sponsor of the bill called “an incredibly deadly drug.”
The legislation that received first-round approval in the House would make it a class B felony, which carries a sentence of five to 15 years in prison, for knowingly distributing, manufacturing, or attempting to distribute or manufacture more than 10 milligrams of fentanyl or carfentanil. The distribution or manufacture of more than 20 milligrams of the drug would be a class A felony, which carries a sentence of 10 to 30 years.
The sponsor of the bill explained that fentanyl trafficking numbers have increased by 4,711 percent in the last few years according to the United States Sentencing Commission. He said many in the criminal justice industry have indicated that fentanyl and carfentanil are the deadliest drugs in America.
“Right now, law enforcement and prosecutors only have the ability to charge drug traffickers with possession or possession with intent,” said the sponsor. He said there is a trend across the United States that has seen attorney generals, prosecutors and law enforcement work with the federal government to add fentanyl to their criminal trafficking statutes to give them a new tool in their toolbox.
The legislation given first-round approval in the House would also create stiff penalties for the trafficking of the date-rape drugs known as GHB and Rohypnol. The bill now awaits another vote in the House before moving to the Senate for debate.
As always, it is an honor to represent you!
Representative Allen Andrews, District 1, Missouri State Capitol, Room 407, 201 West Capitol Avenue, Jefferson City, MO 65101.
Allen Andrews is the First District State Representative.