Lawmakers work to increase penalties for those who lace drugs with fentanyl – KPLC

Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) – Legislators are cracking down on drugs as lawmakers discuss a bill that would turn up the heat on those who knowingly lace drugs with fentanyl.
The effort comes at a time where fentanyl overdoses and related deaths are on the rise.
“I’ve worked in the field of addiction for 23 years and I couldn’t save my own nephew and so this is very near and dear to me not just professionally but personally,” Tanya McGee said.
McGee is the executive director of Imperial Calcasieu Human Services Authority, she lost her nephew to a drug overdose a few years ago.
“He and his friends thought that they purchased Percocet,” McGee said. “But it was actually Percocet laced with fentanyl and so we lost Nobel because of an individual out there who laced it and sold it and misrepresented it.”
Senate Bill 315, authored by Louisiana Sen. Glen Womack works to increase penalties for those who distribute drugs laced with fentanyl. His bill would change the current law of a convicted individual to face jail time for 5 to 40 years and pay a fine of no more than $50,000 to the proposed law that would increase the minimum jail time to 10 years and the maximum sentence to 45 years.
“I’m so very thankful that they’re talking about it and that it’s being addressed at all levels and so yes there may be some legislation out there that’s better than others. There may be some that folks agree with and don’t, but at least the conversation is happening in our state capitol because this is an epidemic,” McGee said.
Another effort by legislators to combat the fentanyl crisis is House Bill 212. The bill would remove fentanyl testing strips and equipment from the definition of drug paraphernalia.
Sen. Womack’s bill also lists testing equipment as an exception to his proposed law.
“At the end of the day,” McGee said. “Our goal is we need folks to stop overdosing on these medications and if we can use an evidence based harm reduction tool to do that – then we need to be able to do that.”
Both the HB 212 and SB 315 are moving forward in the legislative process.
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