Nevada to Try for Harsher Penalties for Fentanyl Possession

( – In response to the worst overdose crisis in US history, Nevada is proposing two legislations that may drastically lower the quantity of fentanyl possession that qualifies for trafficking charges. The argument has severe ramifications for how the most lethal drug in America is prosecuted and has sparked a breach between law enforcement authorities and “harm reduction” activists. The attorney general of Nevada, Aaron Ford, introduced one of the bills and warned that the focus on the issue must avoid a return to the “war on drugs” from the crack cocaine era. Harm reduction experts warned that the bills would result in the same thing.

Although they backed heavier punishments, law enforcement authorities opposed a jail and prison drug treatment program because they claim it would be challenging to implement. The majority of fentanyl entering the US comes from Mexico, where it is mixed with supplies of other drugs like cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and fake oxycodone pills. Fentanyl can be fatal in dosages as low as 2 mg, and 1 g can contain hundreds of lethal doses.

With other state legislatures, including those in Oregon, West Virginia, South Carolina, and Alabama, also exploring or implementing harsher punishments for lesser amounts of fentanyl, this shift toward heavier prison sentences for carrying smaller amounts of drugs is a response to the mounting overdose issue. The two bills are meant to provide more tools for law enforcement to prosecute traffickers bringing fentanyl into the state of Nevada. The proposed legislation would classify illicit fentanyl as a separate narcotic and make knowing or willful possession of the drug a low-level crime punishable by up to four years in jail. The middle/high ground level of trafficking covered by Ford’s plan starts at 14 grams and carries increasing punishments all the way to a life sentence.

“Harm reduction” advocates argue that the bills would classify low-level users who require treatment with high-level traffickers who introduce vast amounts of fentanyl into the state.

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