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Aug 162018
 

Citing the mass overdoses in downtown New Haven by scores of people who used synthetic marijuana likely laced with an opioid, House Republican Leader Themis Klarides today said the legislature should have strengthened penalties for those who sell opioids such as fentanyl when it had the chance.

Klarides said the House Republican caucus will again propose legislation to double the penalties for the dealing and manufacturing of opioids such as fentanyl as it has in the past few years. Each time it has failed to gain final approval after support gaining support in committee.

“What has happened in New Haven this week should be a lesson for us all. These mass overdoses tell us that the sale and use of opioids and dangerous substances such as fentanyl are out of control. We need tougher penalties on the sale and manufacture of these substances if we are going to get a handle on this epidemic,’’ Klarides said. “It is not the only answer but it needs to be part of the
solution.’’

A Yale-New Haven Hospital physician told media outlets that the Drug Enforcement Administration confirmed that the drugs contained synthetic marijuana mixed with fentanyl, synthetic opioid about 50 times stronger than heroin. More than 70 people overdosed on the
synthetic marijuana known as K2 on Wednesday. Additional overdoses have continued. The incidents have kept law enforcement and emergency responders busy in downtown New Haven.

“Tougher laws on the sale of fentanyl, in particular, will enhance the public’s awareness on just how dangerous and prevalent this substance is,’’ Klarides said.

The most recent legislation introduced HB 5551 AAC Increasing Penalties for Dealing Synthetic Drugs, hiked penalties for dealing and manufacturing fentanyl substances. In 2016 a similar bill passed unanimously in the Judiciary Committee and cleared the House only to die in the Senate.

Last year the bill passed Judiciary but was never called in the House.

The legislation would have reclassified fentanyl as a narcotic from its current status as a controlled substance. The change in classification would double the penalties to up to 15 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.

Klarides called the legislation a straightforward approach to a problem that should enjoy broad support.

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