BATON ROUGE, La. — A pre-filed bill in Louisiana would harden penalties for drug-related crimes tied to selling fentanyl.
The CDC describes illegal fentanyl as having a “heroin-like effect” that can be mixed with heroin and/or cocaine.
Current law states that anyone who is convicted of making or dealing fentanyl or carfentanil will be sentenced to hard labor for no less than five years and no more than 40 years and must pay a fine not over $50,000. The court is allowed to suspend sentences, according to existing law.
House Bill 90, authored by Rep. John Stefanski (R-Crowley), proposes that offenders convicted of fentanyl-related crimes involving 28 grams or more be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, probation or suspension of sentence.
“The fentanyl crisis Louisiana is fighting knows no zip code, it knows no social class, gender or age. This toxic poison is stealing the lives of thousands of innocent Louisianans. It’s time that the consequences for creating and distributing fentanyl match the violent damage it causes,” explained Stefanski.
The Louisiana Department of Health said fentanyl deaths increased from fewer than 200 statewide in 2017 to nearly 1,000 in 2021. According to the state health department, drug overdoses increased by 219% from 2016 to 2021 in Acadiana.
The Drug Enforcement Agency reported that its New Orleans division, which includes Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas, seized over 20.2 million deadly doses of fentanyl in 2022.