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Fentanyl trafficking bill moves forward out of House committee

The bill would create mandatory minimum sentences for possession of fentanyl that indicate trafficking.

Rep. Matt Simpson, R-Daphne, speaks with media about his bill to establish mandatory minimum sentences for trafficking in fentanyl. Jacob Holmes/APR

Alabama Speaker of the House Nathaniel Ledbetter, R-Rainsville, identified a bill by Rep. Matt Simpson, R-Daphne, as one o this top priorities to pass in his first year as speaker. 

That bill is one step closer to passage after gaining bipartisan support in the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

The bill creates a mandatory minimum sentence of three years for possession of one to two grams,  10 years for possession between two and four grams, 25 years for possession of four to eight grams and life in prison for possession of more than eight grams.

Simpson said his goals with the bill are to raise awareness of the deadliness of fentanyl and to send a message to dealers that the state takes trafficking in fentanyl very seriously.

“If you’re dealing fentanyl in our community, in our state, we’re going to come after you,” Simpson said. “There’s going to be teeth to the law and you’re going to do some time in prison.”

Rep. Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa, who is often at odds with Republicans in the House Judiciary, signaled his support for the bill during the session.

“I think we’re all being as careful as possible to make sure that this addresses the specific community or specific people that we are trying to get at,” England said. “I think we can acknowledge that some times int he past we have used sledgehammers on ants and created legislation that has actually gotten the users instead of the people we targeted. I think the way you approached this legislation and ho it got here … I think this is a good bill to accomplish the objective.”

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The bill deals with someone carrying pure fentanyl in amounts that are clearly not for personal use. Simpson used a packet of artificial sweetener to drive his point home, noting that the 1 gram packet, if filled with fentanyl, “could kill every member of the House of Representatives five times.”

The bill now moves forward to be considered by the full House.

Jacob Holmes is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected]

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