WASHINGTON (TND) — Lawmakers across the country are taking aggressive action to go after drug dealers selling fentanyl-laced pills that have led to the deaths of thousands of Americans.
This week, the Biden administration declared the deadly drug “tranq” — a combination of fentanyl and the veterinary tranquilizer xylazine — as an emerging threat. The rise in popularity of the deadly cocktail has only pushed state lawmakers to pass laws with tougher penalties for fentanyl.
“You kill Texans with fentanyl. You get charged with murder,” Gov. Greg Abbott posted on Twitter.
Mark Morgan, knows the border. The former acting commissioner of Customs and Border Protection applauded the Texas Senate after it passed a bill classifying fentanyl overdoses as poisonings and would prosecute drug dealers who sell it as murderers. The bill now moves to the Texas House.
“I think they're right on track and more states should follow,” Morgan said. “If you with intent knowingly take a benign non-lethal drug and intentionally lace that with a lethal drug and you did not disclose that to the consumer and they die, yes, I think you have a pilot patient case for intentional murder.”
The Lone Star state is not alone in passing aggressive legislation. Alabama passed a bill sending people away for three years for one gram of pure fentanyl, saying one gram can kill up to 500 people.
Last year, West Virginia made fentanyl distribution punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
Lawmakers are also demanding tougher action on the federal level.
“We have got to stop this flow of fentanyl coming into our country that is killing over 100,000 American every single year,” said Rep. Carlos Jimenez, R-Fla.
But critics argue tougher penalties may not be the answer, comparing it to the crack epidemic and not wanting to repeat history with mass incarceration.
For example, California state lawmakers voted down a handful of bills. One assembly member told the LA Times that many of the proposals focused on “how can we fill up the prisons again” instead of a long-term solution to addiction.
On Tuesday, the White House unveiled an initiative to target the fentanyl supply chain, which includes working with international governments.