AG Healey Urges Passage of Fentanyl Trafficking Law to Curb State Heroin and Prescription Drug Epidemic
AG’s Testimony before the Judiciary Committee Highlights Need for State Law Criminalizing Fentanyl Trafficking
BOSTON – In an effort to get the deadly drug fentanyl off the streets and out of the hands of those struggling with addiction, Attorney General Maura Healey today urged the Judiciary Committee to advance legislation to criminalize the trafficking of fentanyl.
In August, AG Healey and House Judiciary Chairman John Fernandes (D-Milford) filed H. 3755, “An Act Relative to the Trafficking of Fentanyl,” which would create the crime of trafficking of fentanyl. In her testimony , AG Healey highlighted the growing presence of fentanyl in communities, exacerbating the heroin and prescription drug crisis and causing deadly overdoses statewide.
Even in very low doses, fentanyl, which is a synthetic opioid, can be fatal. It is estimated to be 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine and 30 to 50 times more potent than heroin. Predatory drug traffickers frequently mix fentanyl with heroin, often without the knowledge of the buyer.
AG Healey stressed the importance of creating a penalty that fits the crime. Under existing law, drug traffickers can only be charged with manufacturing, distributing, or possessing fentanyl, but not with trafficking, regardless of the quantity of fentanyl they are caught with.
The legislation proposed by AG Healey and Chairman Fernandes would address that problem by adding language to specifically criminalize the trafficking of fentanyl or mixtures including fentanyl or a derivative. The bill would create the crime of fentanyl trafficking for amounts greater than 10 grams and authorize incarceration in state prison up to 20 years for those convicted of fentanyl trafficking.
Shortly before taking office, AG Healey announced the formation of an internal task force to aggressively combat the heroin and prescription drug abuse crisis in Massachusetts. AG Healey has vowed to use a multi-faceted approach to educate prescribers, pursue illegal drug traffickers and pill mills, and expand access to recovery and treatment programs in order to address this public health crisis.