According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, deaths from fentanyl overdoses are still rising exponentially. In the U.S., 56,516 overdose deaths were reported in 2020, a 56% increase over 2019.
This week, State Rep. Matt Simpson (R-Daphne) announced that he’s putting forward legislation to strengthen penalties against fentanyl drug traffickers in the Yellowhammer State.
Tuesday, Simpson joined WVNN’s “The Yaffee Program,” to discuss his plan to combat the fentanyl crisis.
“If you’re trafficking heroin, if you’re trafficking marijuana, if you’re trafficking cocaine, if you’re trafficking methamphetamines, you have mandatory time that you serve in prison; and the case in fentanyl – that’s just not the case in Alabama,” Simpson said. “They left that part off. Well, fentanyl has blown up so much in our state, use and distribution and traffickers, that we need to get fentanyl in line with every other drug in Alabama and come out and punish these people.”
The state lawmaker also talked about the dangers from the powerful drug.
“This is so addictive,” he said. “it’s 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine, and it’s more addictive, as well. So, because it’s so addictive, they’re not worried about losing customers. Deaths are just a part of the program on what they have here. They’ll find more customers because, once they get addicted to this thing, it’s very difficult to come off.”
Simpson also said he believes fentanyl is being used by China to undermine America from within.
“China is using it, it’s a weapon, it’s a weapon in a war against America I believe,” he said. “And they’re using that weapon to make sure it gets over here … I do think there is some intention from China to hurt America from within. And you look at the people who are using, it’s generally our young people, so you can attack the next generation of Americans by getting rid of that next generation.”
The lawmaker said his proposal will put traffickers behind bars for a mandatory amount of time so they can no longer push this drug on Alabama’s streets.
“Right now for the proposal,” he continued, “if you are caught with trafficking a gram, but less than two grams, it would be a mandatory minimum imprisonment of three years. If you’re between two grams and four grams, it would be a mandatory minimum imprisonment of 10 years. If you’re four grams but less that eight grams, it would be 25 years. And if you more than eight grams, it would be a mandatory imprisonment of life in prison.”
Simpson said he was optimistic the new law will pass in the next legislative session.
“I’ve worked this,” he said. “I have sent a copy to a number of legislators, I’ve worked with a number of legislators throughout the state, talked with people in leadership to let them know that this is a problem that this is what’s going on. I am hopeful.”