I’m certain many of you have heard about the drug fentanyl in the news these last few years, the powerful opioid similar to morphine or oxycodone, but 100 times more powerful than both of those drugs and much more addictive and deadly.

Fentanyl’s original uses included pain relief for cancer patients and battlefield medicine for our military, but now, illegally manufactured fentanyl is streaming across our Southern border, becoming an addictive street drug causing hundreds of deaths across our state. In Baldwin County alone, 68% of the overdose deaths were linked to fentanyl last year. Jefferson County reported more than 300 fentanyl related deaths in 2022. 

An overdose amount of fentanyl is as small as just two milligrams, equivalent to five grains of sand. By comparison, a packet of sugar is around 1,000 milligrams. To put that in perspective, an amount of this substance fitting on the head of a ballpoint pen can kill someone who encounters it, regardless of whether the contact is intentional or accidental. Drug dealers are intentionally adding this deadly substance to other drugs — heroin, cocaine, marijuana — even passing it off on seemingly non-threatening items like breath mints.

This lethal drug puts our children and communities in danger, as well as the law enforcement officers and first responders at risk of accidental exposure while on the job.

But, unlike the trafficking of every other dangerous drug in this state, fentanyl trafficking does not have a mandatory prison sentence attached to the charge. Currently, these dealers of death can just use their stacks of drug money to post bail and be back out on the streets pushing this poison in a matter of hours.

My bill, House Bill 1, hopes to correct this wrong immediately by creating mandatory jail sentences for those found guilty of trafficking fentanyl in Alabama, putting these dealers of death behind bars where they belong and helping make our streets a safer place again.

Our families and friends have already been hit too hard by this drug, but this legislation will be a giant step forward in the efforts to protect our loved ones and communities from the fentanyl crisis that is quickly becoming a national crisis. 

Representative Matt Simpson represents House District 96 in the Alabama House of Representatives and serves as the Chairman of the House Ethics and Campaign Finance Committee. HB1 will be considered by the Alabama House of Representatives during the legislative session and will be heard in committee on Wednesday.

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to [email protected]

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