By Senator Cam Ward & Representative April Weaver
As we enter the second half of the 2017 Regular Session of the Alabama Legislature we have many big issues that still need to be addressed, however few are as important as addressing the growing opioid & fentanyl abuse issues in our state. Drug traffickers continue to prey on the addiction of others by selling these deadly drugs for huge profits.
In addition to continuing to advocate for better treatment services for those with addiction, we have also filed legislation together that would strengthen penalties for the trafficking of the synthetic opioid fentanyl, a substance that is about fifty times stronger than heroin.
Used as a pain reliever for patients, fentanyl is among the most powerful opioids prescribed by medical providers. Its street form is uniquely dangerous since the drug can be absorbed via the skin or inhalation. In Jefferson County alone, fentanyl deaths increased by 114% in a single year. This is an unbelievably powerful drug and the illegal use and trafficking of Fentanyl are creating a public health and criminal justice crisis.
The state must do a better job in providing for addiction treatment. Without adequate treatment those with this deadly addiction do not stand a chance against those who wish to prey on their fellow man. Our legislation takes the approach that trafficking in this deadly drug without any consequences only enables the drug dealer to further take advantage of those with addiction. Our bill is supported by Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, the Alabama District Attorneys Association as well as members of both parties in the House and Senate.
Prosecutors and law enforcement have fought the devastating effect of these dangerous drugs on our citizens for years. It is time we give them the tools to properly carry out justice. This is legislation we have crafted is critically needed in the fight against criminal drug smugglers, distributers and traffickers who apply their deadly trade in Alabama. As legislators who represent both suburban and rural communities we have seen firsthand the devastating impact this drug is having. We feel that there can be no bigger priority for the legislature, than to remove these dangerous criminals from our streets before more lives are lost to their devious trade.