The Missouri Senate Judiciary Committee has approved legislation that would create tough punishments for trafficking fentanyl.
“This legislation merely adds what many have labeled as ‘the deadliest drug in America,’ fentanyl and carfentanil, into our drug trafficking statutes,” Rep. Nick Schroer, R-O’Fallon, said at a Monday hearing . He is the sponsor of the proposed legislation, House Bill 1450.
If the bill passes, knowingly distributing, manufacturing or attempting to distribute or manufacture more than 10 milligrams of fentanyl will become a Class B felony in Missouri. Prison sentences for these crimes range from five to 15 years.
The legislation also would make it a Class A felony for crimes involving more than 20 milligrams of fentanyl. Prison sentences could range from 10 to 30 years.
During the committee hearing, no one testified in opposition to the legislation.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is considered 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Missouri, deaths related to such synthetic opioids rose by 40% from 2017 to 2018, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Schroer’s legislation also makes trafficking all byproducts of fentanyl illegal under Missouri law. Under Senate social distancing procedures, Schroer presented HB 1450 in front of the Judiciary Committee from a balcony of the Senate chamber.
The fentanyl trafficking penalties are now part of a much larger criminal law bill that will head to the full Senate for debate. Other provisions in the new bill include pretrial witness protection programs, additional offenses for juveniles being tried as adults and several others.