The Illinois Senate has taken another major step in combatting the opioid overdose epidemic by passing legislation from State Sen. John Curran (R-Downers Grove) to treat the deadly drug Fentanyl as seriously as heroin.
“Fentanyl has clearly become the number one threat in the ongoing opioid crisis,” said Curran. “This bill will help our justice system clamp down on the illegal Fentanyl trade and help law enforcement get the deadly drug off of our streets.”
Senate Bill 199 creates a Class 1 felony penalty structure for the possession of Fentanyl and Fentanyl analogs, targeted at illegal dealers and suppliers of the drug. The goal is to put Fentanyl offenses on the same level as heroin, and to help prosecute those who are engaged in the illegal manufacturing and trade of the deadly drug.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid originally developed as a painkiller. Experts say the drug is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. The drug is also manufactured illegally, and commonly mixed with heroin and cocaine, to increase the sense of euphoric high. Fentanyl is now the drug most frequently involved in overdose deaths in the United States, according to a 2018 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“It’s important to give our courts and police officers the tools they need to effectively go after the illicit opioid trade,” said Curran.
The legislation was an initiative of DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin.
“In 2018, Fentanyl was involved in 65% of all opioid overdose deaths in DuPage County,” Berlin said. “Knowing that Fentanyl is deadlier than heroin, it is only fitting that someone caught illegally possessing Fentanyl face the same consequences as someone caught illegally possessing an equal amount of heroin.”
Senate Bill 199 passed the Senate unanimously on March 27 and is now headed to the Illinois House for consideration in that chamber.