WASHINGTON — On April 21, Senator John Kennedy introduced the Ending the Fentanyl Crisis Act of 2021.
If passed, the bill would increase the legal penalties for fentanyl traffickers, in proportion to the drug’s potency. The bill would also make it harder for drug dealers to circulate the substance.
“The opioid epidemic has devastated American families and communities, in large part because of fentanyl. Even a small amount of this dangerous opioid can kill someone’s son or daughter, so why doesn’t the punishment for trafficking fentanyl match the severity of the crime? It’s time to close the gap between fentanyl’s deadliness and the punishments for trafficking it, and that is what the Ending the Fentanyl Crisis Act would do,” said Kennedy.
Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) are original co-sponsors of the bill.
Opioid overdoses have killed almost half a million Americans since 1999. In 2018, 50,000 Americans died from opioid use, surpassing the number of firearm-related deaths that year. Fentanyl and its analogues, which narcotics dealers often mix into other drugs, have made the threat drugs pose to communities worse.
The existing legal penalties for fentanyl trafficking do not reflect the drug’s potency, and current mandatory minimum sentences only apply when a trafficker possesses 40 grams or more of fentanyl or 10 grams or more of a fentanyl analogue.
The Ending the Fentanyl Crisis Act of 2021 reduces the threshold of possession for minimum prison sentences to two grams of fentanyl or 0.5 grams of a fentanyl analogue and equips the U.S. Postal Service with resources to help combat fentanyl trafficking.