Despite the fact that Fentanyl is now considered to be the biggest cause of opioid overdose deaths, current Illinois criminal law treats is as a lesser threat. That could all change due to legislation sponsored by State Sen. John Curran (R-Downers Grove) that would put the drug of the same level as heroin.
“Fentanyl is now the biggest threat in the opioid crisis, our criminal laws need to reflect that,” said Curran. “This legislation will help our police officers and courts to better combat fentanyl trafficking and help get it off of our streets.”
According to 2018 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Fentanyl is now the drug that is most frequently involved in overdose in the United States. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid pain reliever that is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. While it is commercially sold as a prescription pain reliever, much of the drug involved in overdoses and deaths is made illegally. It is often mixed in with heroin and cocaine by dealers.
Senate Bill 199 creates a Class 1 felony penalty structure for the possession of fentanyl and Fentanyl analogs, targeted at illegal dealers and suppliers of the drug.
“Illegal Fentanyl is now the biggest threat in the fight against opioid addiction and deaths,” said Curran. “This helps give law enforcement another tool in their battle.”
The legislation was an initiative of DuPage County State’s Attorney’s Robert Berlin.
“In 2018, fentanyl was involved in 65% of all opioid overdose deaths in Dupage County,” Berlin said. “Knowing that fentanyl is deadlier than heroin, it is only fitting that someone caught illegally possessing fentanyl face the same consequences as someone caught illegally possessing an equal amount of heroin.”
Senate Bill 199 passed the Senate Criminal Law committee unanimously and is now awaiting a vote by the full Senate.