State Rep. Kathy Kennedy: Bill to Increase Penalties For Dealing And Manufacturing Fentanyl Passes In The House

Posted on May 16, 2019 by jdooley

Bill calls for fentanyl to be defined as a “narcotic substance” increasing sentencing to no less than 15 years and/or a $50,000 fine

HARTFORD, CT – State Representatives Kathy Kennedy, Themis Klarides, and Charles Ferraro, praised the passage of legislation on Tuesday, May 14th to increase penalties for the dealing and manufacturing of fentanyl and fentanyl derivatives.

House Republican Leader Themis Klarides, submitted this bill in an effort to legislatively address the opioid crisis and curtail the growing use and distribution of fentanyl and fentanyl laced drugs throughout Connecticut.

“Connecticut needs to severely punish these street dealers and fentanyl manufacturers for selling this deadly drug. Changing the definition of fentanyl to a narcotic permits state prosecutors and judges to level tougher prison sentences,” said Rep. Kennedy, who has personally seen the devastation of the opioid epidemic. “Let’s stop the proliferation of fentanyl on our streets now.

“We need to protect our communities, opioids are destroying the lives of our state and fentanyl has taken this to a new level. When our own police officers and forensic teams have to take extra safety measures when handling fentanyl at a crime scene and have medical responders nearby in case they themselves come in contact with the lethal substance, how can Senate and House leadership not call this bill for a vote? Not that long ago, that truck carrying enough fentanyl to kill everyone in this state rolled right through our backyard. I implore our State Senators to call this bill to the floor and vote in favor of protecting all of our citizens from fentanyl,” said Rep. Klarides

“The opioid crisis has hit Connecticut hard and fentanyl is drastically making the crisis worse by the day,” said Rep. Ferraro. “It’s critical that we continue to pass laws that will help end this crisis.”

The bill would change the definition of narcotic substance to include fentanyl the same category as heroin. As the law is currently written, fentanyl is listed as a synthetic drug, which is a lesser penalty.
Three years ago, state police in Derby pulled over a truck carrying 55 pounds of fentanyl—a narcotic substance that federal drug monitors say is as much as 50 times more powerful than heroin and 100 times more powerful than morphine, the US Center for Disease Control recently declared fentanyl the deadliest drug in America. The seized 55lbs of fentanyl equaled almost 15 million lethal doses; the population of Connecticut is 3.57 million individuals, the driver of the tractor trailer received a sentencing of 30 months in prison. New York (about an hour drive from Derby) has become a national distribution hub for fentanyl, with 35 pounds seized in 2016, to a total of 491 pounds of fentanyl seized in 2017.

Over the past several years Connecticut has seen an incline of overdose deaths involving fentanyl. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, states there were 1,033 overdose deaths in Connecticut in 2017, 677 of which were fentanyl related deaths, compared to188 in 2015.

The bill now awaits action in the Senate.