NC Wants Tougher Drug Penalties

( – North Carolina lawmakers want to get tougher on deadly drugs that have a high chance of causing fatal overdoses.

The state Senate unanimously passed a bill on March 14th that would increase the criminal penalties for drug dealers, specifically those who deal drugs such as Fentanyl and other substances likely to cause overdose deaths.

Now that it’s out of the Senate, the bill goes over to the House, which will consider whether to up the felony punishments for dealers whose products cause death, and who do so with “malice” or knowledge that they are doing harm.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid, a class of drugs originally derived from morphine. These drugs are used legitimately to control pain after surgeries and for traumatic injuries. Fentanyl, however, is significantly stronger than most others; only a small amount can lead to a fatal overdose.

Similar drugs used on large animals are also contemplated in the bill. Carfentanil is similar to Fentanyl but is instead used to sedate elephants, for example.

The House will also consider whether to increase punishments for trafficking heroin, and whether to amend the state’s “good samaritan” law. The bill proposes to give limited legal immunity to such people who call 911 to report an overdose and who have less than one gram of fentanyl in their possession.

Republican state Senator Tom McInnis is one of the primary sponsors of the measure that just passed the Senate. He said “this piece of poison called fentanyl” is killing North Carolinians and people across the US.

Officials estimate that fentanyl caused the deaths of more than 3,000 residents of North Carolina in 2021. These numbers are the latest available from the state Department of Health and Human Services.

The bill would increase the prison time for those convicted of distribution who also have prior substantial criminal records. They could face an additional 10 years of jail time.

Those convicted and found to have acted with malice would get up to 30 years in prison.

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