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May 10, 2023

Alabama lawmakers approve harsher penalties for trafficking fentanyl

Alabama lawmakers have recently approved harsher penalties for trafficking fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid that has been responsible for a significant number of overdose deaths in the state. The new law, which was signed by Governor Kay Ivey, aims to crack down on the illegal distribution of fentanyl and other dangerous drugs. Under the new law, anyone caught trafficking fentanyl will face a minimum sentence of three years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison. The penalties for trafficking other opioids, such as heroin and oxycodone, have also been increased. The law also includes provisions for mandatory drug testing for certain offenders and increased funding for drug treatment programs. Fentanyl is a highly potent synthetic opioid that is often mixed with other drugs, such as heroin, to increase their potency. It is estimated to be 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine and has been responsible for a significant number of overdose deaths in Alabama and across the country. According to the Alabama Department of Public Health, there were 1,701 overdose deaths in the state in 2019, with fentanyl being involved in 573 of those deaths. This represents a significant increase from previous years, with fentanyl-related deaths increasing by 200% from 2015 to 2019. The new law is part of a broader effort by Alabama lawmakers to address the opioid epidemic in the state. In addition to increasing penalties for drug trafficking, the state has also implemented a prescription drug monitoring program to help prevent the overprescribing of opioids and has expanded access to naloxone, a medication that can reverse opioid overdoses. While the new law has been praised by many as a step in the right direction, some have raised concerns about the effectiveness of harsher penalties in addressing the opioid epidemic. Critics argue that the focus should be on prevention and treatment rather than punishment. Despite these concerns, the new law represents a significant effort by Alabama lawmakers to address the devastating impact of fentanyl and other opioids on the state. By increasing penalties for drug trafficking and expanding access to treatment, the state is taking important steps to combat the opioid epidemic and save lives.