HARTFORD – State Representative Irene Haines (R-34) voted in favor of legislation to re-classify the synthetic opioid Fentanyl as a narcotic substance. The bill, HB 5524 An Act Increasing the Penalties for the Sale of Fentanyl, would increase penalties for the dealing and manufacturing of fentanyl and its derivatives adding them to the same category as heroin.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid often laced in heroin and other narcotics. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, fentanyl is estimated to be 30-50 times more potent than morphine and hundreds of times more potent than heroin.
The opioid crisis has touched every community in our state. Fentanyl in particular has caused hundreds of deaths,” said Rep. Haines. “Currently fentanyl classified as a non-narcotic controlled substance which doesn’t carry the same penalties as other less powerful drugs. This re-classification appropriate steps to recognize the dangers of fentanyl and hopefully deter its illegal sale and distribution.
Individuals convicted of selling narcotics generally face longer prison sentences and greater fines than those convicted of selling non-narcotic controlled substances.
Under current law, a person convicted for a first offense of selling narcotics may be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison, fined up to $50,000, or both. In contrast, a person convicted for a first offense of selling non-narcotic controlled substances may be sentenced to up to seven years in prison, fined up to $25,000, or both.
There were roughly 1,000 overdose deaths in Connecticut last year, according to the Office of Chief Medical Examiner, 93% were opioid-related.
The legislation was passed unanimously by the Judiciary Committee in April and was passed by the House of Representatives on May 14th. The bill awaits further action in the Senate.