BOSTON (WWLP) – State lawmakers want tougher penalties for drug dealers, and they are focused on the powerful drug Fentanyl.
Fentanyl is one of the most powerful pain relievers on the market, but drug cartels have figured out how to manufacture it, and the drug is getting into the hands of addicts.
With heroin and prescription drugs linked to more than 1,200 deaths in Massachusetts last year, House lawmakers voted Wednesday to make trafficking more than ten grams of Fentanyl a crime, punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
Ten grams is less than half an ounce.
Doctors prescribe Fentanyl for pain relief, but many drug dealers are now lacing heroin with Fentanyl, oftentimes without knowledge of the buyer. Lawmakers hope stiffer penalties will deter drug dealers from selling this highly-addictive painkiller.
“There have been some major Fentanyl busts, and some of the things that we’re seeing in just the incredible amount of overdose deaths is the common theme of Fentanyl,” said Rep. Paul Tucker (D-Salem).
With its passage in the House, the bill now heads to the Senate.