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Opinion | Dealing with Alabama’s deadliest drug

No matter where it’s coming from, it’s ending up in our state and wreaking havoc.

An illustration of fentanyl. STOCK
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The deadliest drug problem in our state is soon to be addressed thanks to Alabama Rep. Matt Simpson, a former district attorney in Baldwin and Mobile counties.

The fentanyl epidemic is a national problem that has come to our state causing over 1,000 deaths in Alabama in 2021 alone. That is more than a 130 percent increase over the prior year.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid. It is treated differently than other drugs in Alabama in that a trafficking conviction does not require jail time. Presently, there is a $50,000 fine for people convicted of trafficking up to two grams of it.

Rep. Simpson is proposing legislation in the next legislative session that would make selling, delivering, or manufacturing that amount carry a three-year prison sentence. His legislation will propose longer prison sentences for larger amounts of the drug, including a life sentence for eight grams of more.

Fentanyl is cheaper than drugs such as cocaine and heroin, and dealers are mixing it with these and other drugs to maximize their potency. Many drug users are not even aware they are taking fentanyl, which could easily attribute to the substantial number of deaths among drug users.

Drug dealers have even started making fentanyl in bright, pretty rainbow colors to intentionally attract and target young people. Few drug users realize that as little as two milligrams of fentanyl can be deadly.

This particular drug, like so many others, seems to be coming from China and through Mexico into the United States. No matter where it’s coming from, it’s ending up in our state and wreaking havoc.

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Thanks Rep. Matt Simpson for recognizing this massive problem and adding further, more stringent penalties to those who are targeting our children and poisoning all those who use fentanyl knowingly or unknowingly.

Beth Chapman is the former Alabama state auditor and 51st secretary of state. She now owns and operates Beth Chapman & Associates LLC. She can be reached at [email protected].

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