The Alabama House of Representatives will bring back up a bill passed last year that was left unenforceable after a technical error led to the wrong version of the bill being signed into law.
House Bill 10 (HB10), sponsored by House Pro Tem Chris Pringle (R-Mobile), would allow any person to be charged with manslaughter if they provide a person with fentanyl or a fentanyl-laced substance that leads to their death. The law would not apply to doctors, pharmacists and dentists who prescribe medication within the scope of their professional duties.
An identical bill passed the legislature last session after it was amended to limit the drugs covered under the bill exclusively to fentanyl. However, due to a reported technical glitch, Gov. Kay Ivey signed the wrong version into law, making it virtually unenforceable.
Despite the passage, the legislation received backlash from House Democrats during debate on the House floor. Some objected, stating that sharing pharmaceuticals is a common occurrence nationwide. Others objected on the grounds that a person may unknowingly provide an individual with tainted drugs.
Despite the protestation, the amended version of the bill cleared the legislature without issue, only being stagnated by the technical glitch.
Alabama has seen a spike in drug overdoses in recent years.
Drug overdoses increased more than 20% in Alabama from May 2019 to May 2020, according to the Alabama Department of Mental Health.
A 2021 annual report by the Alabama Opioid Overdose and Addiction Council showed opioid deaths increased nearly 30% in the first half of the year compared to 2020, with the "most notable increases among males."
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