Criminal penalties for possessing fentanyl that killed Prince could soon go up

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Criminal penalties for possessing fentanyl that killed Prince could soon go up

Criminal penalties for taking the extremely addictive opioid substance that, as per authorities, has taken life of the music sensation Prince may go up soon in case a Senator gets her way.

New Hampshire Republican Kelly Ayotte has come up with amendments to a defense spending bill that would result into a compulsory, minimum five-year prison term in case anybody is caught red handed with even half a gram of fentanyl. The present trigger for this punishment is 20 times the amount of the drug. In hospitals, Fentanyl is generally used for the treatment of extreme pain.

In the past few years, the substance has been a main contributor to a rise in overdose deaths, specifically in New England. There isn’t any dispute over the danger of the drug. But even then advocates have extremely different viewpoints over if fentanyl use should be treated as criminal justice crisis or a public health emergency.

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People in the age-group of mid-40s to mid-60s are generally prescribed opioids containing benzodiazepines. Both types of drugs can hinder breathing and their mixture is mainly risky.

Next week, the debate will turn to Capitol Hill, when the Senate will decide over the National Defense Authorization Act and the Judiciary Committee during a hearing on Tuesday regarding ‘deadly synthetic drugs’.

The proposal has been called as a ‘huge step backward’ by a bipartisan group of lobbyists and interest groups that have been putting pressure on Congress since long to roll back drug crimes-related penalties.

Michael Collins, deputy director of the Drug Policy Alliance, said, “There's a strong push to do criminal justice reform for drug-related crimes. This flies in the face of all of that”.

Collins added that half a gram is so minute that in case a prosecutor interested in building a case against somebody for the drug usage, in theory that may subject him to at least half-a-decade prison term.

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