Republican Senators Introduce Bill to Crack Down on Fentanyl Trafficking

Matt O'Hern
Fentanyl kills hundreds of Louisiana residents each year.Photo byNew South Politics

With thousands of Americans dying from opioids each year, more elected officials are taking actions to address the issue of illegal distribution. Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy (R) introduced the Fairness in Fentanyl Sentencing Act of 2023 to crack down on fentanyl trafficking by lowering the threshold required for minimum sentencing in light of the drug’s potency relative to other substances.

Fentanyl, which is 50 times more powerful than heroin, is now the leading cause of death among Americans ages 18-45. Sen. Kennedy said that the current mandatory minimum threshold does not reflect the substance’s lethal threat to American lives. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, two milligrams of fentanyl can kill a person. As a result, Sen. Kennedy believes that a lower quantity of fentanyl should trigger a mandatory minimum sentence.

“It’s killing Americans, and the justice system needs to make sure that the criminals who are blanketing our communities with fentanyl get sentenced appropriately.," Kennedy said in an official statement. "The Fairness in Fentanyl Sentencing Act would bring justice to the Louisiana families who have lost loved ones to this scourge.”

Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Katie Britt (R-Ala.) cosponsored the legislation.

“Current federal mandatory minimums are drastically out of step with the deadly threat fentanyl poses to American lives. Fentanyl-related overdoses kill 70,000 Americans each year and cause a new 9/11 every two weeks. I’m glad to work with my colleagues on this legislation. We know that even a miniscule amount of fentanyl can be lethal. It’s time the federal code treat fentanyl for what it is: a weapon of mass destruction,” said Graham. 

“Fentanyl kills over 70,000 Americans each year and is more powerful than most other drugs, but federal sentences for fentanyl trafficking don’t currently reflect its immense threat. We should strengthen these penalties and ensure fentanyl traffickers face the consequences of their crimes,” said Cotton.

“Fentanyl is stealing lives and devastating families in every corner of Alabama and America. This crisis is infiltrating our schools and our communities, and it is past time that we hold the criminals profiting off of this poison accountable. This legislation is an important part of comprehensively addressing the supply of and demand for fentanyl in our country, so we can keep our children safe and our future strong,”said Britt.

Current mandatory minimum sentences for fentanyl trafficking only apply when a trafficker possesses 40 grams or more of fentanyl or 10 grams or more of a fentanyl analogue. The Fairness in Fentanyl Sentencing Act of 2023 would reduce the threshold of possession for minimum prison sentences to two grams of fentanyl or 0.5 grams of a fentanyl analogue.

Comments / 25

Published by

Matt O’Hern’s journalism experience includes political news reporting for various organizations and news publications in Florida since 2005. O’Hern graduated from Samford University in Birmingham, AL with a degree in journalism.

Orlando, FL

More from Matt O'Hern

Comments / 0