MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Since a 15-year-old girl died in Semmes and a 21-year-old man died in Theodore from a fentanyl overdose, lawmakers are taking matters into their own hands by proposing bills that could further criminalize the distribution of the drug.
State Reps. Chris Pringle and Matt Simpson have proposed their own bills targeting fentanyl distribution.
Pringle’s bill focuses on drugs in a broader sense, as it focuses solely on fatal overdoses.
“My bill would make it very simple. If you sell drugs and you cause someone’s death, you will be charged with manslaughter,” Pringle said.
Simpson’s bill focuses solely on fentanyl itself. It mainly targets fentanyl trafficking and plans to increase prison sentences based on how much fentanyl someone traffics. It only targets those who distribute the drug in the community; not the average common person who may not know something that has can be mixed with fentanyl.
According to Pringle and Simpson, Alabama does not have a mandatory prison sentence for fentanyl, as it does for heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana, so they hope this legislation will change that.
Simpson said it takes very little fentanyl to kill someone.
“It takes one of these packets, that’s one gram,” Simpson said as he picked up a packet of sugar. “So a packet like this can kill 500 people, two milligrams is a lethal dose.”
Virginia Guy, executive director of the Council on Drug Education, said overdose deaths in Alabama are a huge problem. She believes this legislation is the first step in addressing the fentanyl overdose problem, but much more needs to be done.
“I support and applaud our legislators for doing everything they can to keep our communities safe,” Guy said. “I also want to work on the other end of what drug demand is, and I want to get the message out to the community that all of these illegal drugs on the street, whether they’re pills, vapes, marijuana, have the potential to have fentanyl in them .
The two bills that Simpson and Pringle are proposing do not work together. These are two completely separate bills, so violators can face multiple charges.
If both are signed into law, a person who deals in fentanyl or drugs laced with fentanyl would face trafficking charges and jail time under Simpson’s bill, and if the drugs kill someone, they would face manslaughter charges from the Pringle Bill.
Simpson and Pringle plan to introduce their bills in the March legislative session. If the House and Senate vote in favor of the bill, it will be placed on the governor’s desk and, if signed, will become law.
You can see Pringle and Simpson’s proposed bills below:
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