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Opinion | It’s time to put fentanyl dealers behind bars

Unlike the trafficking of every other dangerous drug in this state, fentanyl trafficking does not have a mandatory prison sentence.

An illustration of fentanyl. STOCK
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I’m certain that many of you have heard about the drug fentanyl in the news these last few years, the powerful opioid similar to morphine or oxycodone but 100 times more powerful than both of those drugs and much more addictive and deadly.

Fentanyl’s original uses included pain relief for cancer patients and battlefield medicine for our military, but now, illegally manufactured fentanyl is streaming into our nation across our southern border and has  become an addictive street drug and the cause of hundreds of deaths across our state. In Baldwin County alone, 68 percent of the overdose deaths were linked to fentanyl last year. Jefferson County reported more than 300 fentanyl related deaths in 2022. 

An overdose amount of fentanyl is as small as just 2 milligrams. This is equivalent to 5 grains of sand. A packet of sugar is around 1,000 milligrams. To put in in perspective, a substance in an amount that could fit on the head of a ballpoint pen can kill someone who comes in contact with it, regardless of whether the contact is intentional or accidental.  Drug dealers are intentionally adding this deadly substance to other drugs – heroin, cocaine, marijuana – and even passing it off on seemingly non-threatening items like breath mints.

This lethal drug puts our children and communities in danger, as well as the law enforcement officers and first responders who are at risk of accidental exposure in the course of their job duties.

But, unlike the trafficking of every other dangerous drug in this state, fentanyl trafficking does not have a mandatory prison sentence attached to the charge. Currently, these dealers of death can just use their stacks of drug money to post bail and be back out on the streets pushing this poison in a matter of hours.

My bill, House Bill 1, hopes to correct this wrong immediately by creating mandatory jail sentences for those found guilty of trafficking fentanyl in Alabama, putting these dealers of death behind bars where they belong and helping make our streets a safer place again.

Our families and friends have already been hit too hard by this drug but this legislation will be a giant step forward in the efforts to protect our loved ones and communities from the fentanyl crisis that is quickly becoming a national crisis.

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Rep. Matt Simpson, R-Daphne, represents House District 96, which includes portions of Mobile and Baldwin counties, in the Alabama House of Representatives. He serves as the chairman of the House Ethics and Campaign Finance Committee.

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