Capitol Alert

Assembly panel blocks bill toughening penalties for fentanyl traffickers

Death is 'collateral damage' for fentanyl dealers

The state Assembly Appropriation Committee on Aug. 11, 2016 killed SB 1323 to increase penalties for drug traffickers of fentanyl. Orange Co. Sheriff's Captain Stu Greenberg says drug dealers consider fentanyl deaths "collateral damage."
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The state Assembly Appropriation Committee on Aug. 11, 2016 killed SB 1323 to increase penalties for drug traffickers of fentanyl. Orange Co. Sheriff's Captain Stu Greenberg says drug dealers consider fentanyl deaths "collateral damage."

A bill that would have imposed stiffer penalties on traffickers of the drug fentanyl was shelved Thursday by the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Senate Bill 1323, introduced by Sens. Patricia Bates, R-Laguna Niguel, and Bob Huff, R-San Dimas, would have added fentanyl to a list of drugs, including heroin and cocaine, that carry additional prison time based on the weight of the drug sold.

“Given fentanyl’s deadly potency, the law should treat fentanyl trafficking the same as heroin and cocaine,” Bates said in a statement. “Today’s decision is a sad setback for law enforcement efforts to go after big-time fentanyl dealers.”

Fentanyl is a powerful opioid used for medical purposes such as treating severe chronic pain or as an anesthetic during surgery. The Sacramento area alone has seen 42 overdoses and 10 deaths related to the drug.

The bill was opposed by the American Civil Liberties Union of California, which argued that the proposed stricter penalties would not stop sales of the drug and that the focus should be on treating addiction.

Anshu Siripurapu: 916-321-1060, @AnshuSiripurapu

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