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Tougher penalties could be heading for fentanyl dealers

With fentanyl being dumped into the country at record numbers, it has all of us searching for solutions.

“It’s unbelievable, and what that tells me as a policymaker is that we need to eradicate this, and we need to use a number of different ways to do that,” said Representative John Stefanski (R).

The Republican from Crowley said one of his solutions is tightening penalties for drug dealers and manufacturers who possess more than 28 grams of fentanyl.

“Modeled really off of the heroin statute that we use to have, which used to be if you were caught distributing heroin in Louisiana or manufacturing it, you could be sentenced to life in prison,” Stefanski added.

Certified Peer Support Specialist Tonja Myles said she is all for stiff penalties for those who knowingly make and sell drugs that kill people but said she wants to make sure no one rushes to the wrong conclusions.

“Because I don’t want there to be add-ons, and before you know it, there’s nothing else in place, and we’re just putting people in jail and throwing away the key,” said Myles.

Stefanski said his bill is not intended to go after the users, but the suppliers.

“Okay so first off, it’s the people that are profiting off of selling this stuff, it’s not targeted to the users. So, that’s the first aspect of it. The second aspect of it is two milligrams of fentanyl will kill you, we’re talking about 28 grams. So, we’re talking about the ability to kill thousands of people in these quantities that they’re selling,” Stefanski explained.

“We have to make sure that as we’re doing these laws, that they’re going to be clear, but they’re also going to be fair and that no one is disproportioned. We need to make sure we’re doing stuff before it even gets to our street, it even gets in the hand of a baby drug dealer,” added Myles.

Stefanski said he agrees getting to the root of the problem would be ideal, only in that regard, it’s more in the hands of the feds.

“China is selling this stuff to Mexico, and it’s coming across our border. So, the federal government at some point is going to have to get serious about these other countries who are literally profiting off of the death of our citizens. So, the federal government at some point is going to have to step up. We can take a state-by-state approach, but Louisiana’s ability to go after these foreign countries is relatively limited,” Stefanski continued.

There are other bills that have been filed ahead of session that look to do the same in one way or another. We will see which one has the votes when lawmakers return to the Capitol in April.


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