Senate committee hears bill that would make dealing fentanyl a felony

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JEFFERSON CITY - Despite being one of the most commonly abused opioids nationwide, there is currently no law in Missouri that allows for the prosecution of those who deal fentanyl.

A bill by Rep. Nick Schroer, R-O'Fallon would change that and create stricter penalties for those who traffick the drug.

The bill would make dealing fentanyl a Class A felony or Class B felony, depending on the amount. The Senate Health and Pensions Committee held a public hearing on it on Wednesday.

“We’ve got two different tiers for drug trafficking of fentanyl,” Schroer said. “More than 10 milligrams but fewer than 20 and then anything over 20, and then we also included the date rape drugs in here as well.”

Amounts below 10 milligrams would be treated like a regular possession charge, which is a Class C felony. The House approved the bill back in February.

Schroer said Fentanyl is one of the most commonly abused synthetic opioids.

“This is a bill that is very important to me, very important to both sides of the aisle and very important to every person in this state,” Schroer said.

He said fentanyl is extremely dangerous.

“When misused, it could lead to many opioid deaths, and it is one of the top contributors to overdoses and opioid deaths in the state of Missouri.”

Fentanyl is typically distributed in small doses because of how powerful it is. According to the Centers for Disease Control, two milligrams of fentanyl is enough to kill someone.

The CDC says fentanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine.

The executive director of the Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, Darrell Moore, also testified Wednesday and he was pressed on the difference between first- and second-degree charges.

“The difference between first-degree drug trafficking and second degree is possession,” Moore said. “The first-degree trafficking deals with the delivery, sale of the substance, whereas second-degree trafficking deals with the fact that you possess this drug in such large quantities either with the intent to later distribute or you are going to use it yourself.”

Schroer said he was working with other lawmakers to combine some of the language of another senate bill that deals with the possession of controlled substances.