Texas lawmakers have passed a bill to allow fentanyl dealers to be charged with murder.
The “Combating Fentanyl” bill introduced by Republican Sen. Joan Huffman, SB 645, passed unanimously.
The legislation would reclassify deaths due to fentanyl as poisonings and open up anyone who makes, sells, or delivers the drug to being charged with murder if someone overdoses.
According to a report from the Texas Tribune, “the bill would also increase the penalty for making or delivering less than 1 gram of fentanyl from a state jail felony to a third-degree felony. If a person dies from an overdose as a result of that manufacturing or delivery of the drug, that penalty is escalated to a second-degree felony. In 2021, Huffman authored a law that increased penalties for manufacturing or delivering more than 1 gram of fentanyl.”
“Huffman’s bill would also stiffen penalties for making, delivering or possessing larger quantities of fentanyl,” the report continued. “Having between 200 and 400 grams would be a first-degree felony, which could lead to between 10 years and life in prison as well as a fine of up to $100,000. Having more than 400 grams would also be a first-degree felony punishable by at least 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.”
The bill has an exception for medical professionals who prescribe the drug to treat a patient.
Speaking on the Senate floor while introducing her bill, Sen. Huffman pointed out that the highly lethal drug is flooding across our borders.
“We have tragically learned the extent of how dangerous fentanyl is and how even under 1 gram is so dangerous,” Huffman said on Wednesday. “It’s a fact that fentanyl is flooding our borders. It is absolutely, without a doubt, killing our citizens on a daily basis. And it’s time that we take a comprehensive approach to combat this.”
As little as 2 milligrams of fentanyl can kill a person, depending on their body size.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott celebrated the bill passing through the state’s senate in a tweet on Wednesday night.
Here we go!
You kill Texans with fentanyl.
You get charged with murder.
Senate passes bill opening door for prosecutors to charge fentanyl distributors with murder.https://t.co/BNInhfgoIG via @TexasTribune
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) March 16, 2023
“Here we go!” Abbott wrote. “You kill Texans with fentanyl. You get charged with murder.”
The bill will now move to the Texas House. If it passes, it will head to the governor’s desk for a signature.