Texas Fights Opioid Crisis: Fentanyl Dealers Face Murder Charges & Students Get Prevention Education

Governor Greg Abbott of Texas has signed a bill into law to combat the opioid crisis in the state. The legislation enables illegal manufacturers or distributors of fentanyl to be prosecuted for murder. The new law establishes mandatory “fentanyl poisoning awareness month” in October, where schools must provide students with information concerning fentanyl abuse prevention. The Texas Health and Human Services Commission will partner with colleges and universities to provide Narcan on campuses, which reverses opioid overdoses.

The Dallas Morning News reported on several suspected fentanyl poisonings resulting in students dying or being hospitalized. Meanwhile, some students have also overdosed on the substance on school grounds after consuming fentanyl-laced pills. The legislation Abbott signed into law mandates more education so that students receive awareness about fentanyl abuse prevention.

Collections of laws signed into law “will save lives, prosecute fentanyl deaths as murder, distribute NARCAN on college campuses,” Abbott said approvingly on Twitter.

Fentanyl is involved in more deaths of Americans below 50 than any cause of death, including homicide, cancer, and suicide, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. 67% of over 100,000 people who died from drug overdoses and drug poisonings within a 12-month period ending in January 2022 involved synthetic opioids like fentanyl.

The governor’s office says these new laws will enact the strictest punishments in the USA for those who manufacture or distribute fentanyl. Anyone charged with possession of over 200 to 400 grams of fentanyl for delivery faces a first-degree felony with a minimum sentence of ten years. If someone is caught with more than 400 grams, they could face a 15-year minimum jail term. The penalty for manufacturing or delivering under 1 gram of fentanyl increases to a third-degree felony in this legislation. Abbott says that the legislation makes it clear that anybody who causes a death by unlawfully manufacturing or delivering fentanyl will be prosecuted for murder in Texas.

The author of H.B.6, Republican Rep. Craig Goldman, states it sends a “strong message” to those who engage in illicit activities that the consequences of their actions will be severe. The state will not accept such criminal activities that put young people at risk. With 2,000-plus individuals dying from fentanyl in Texas in 2022, these laws are significant and will help prevent future tragedies.

Written by Staff Reports

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