GOP lawmakers push bill to make the distribution of fentanyl that causes someone’s death punishable as felony murder

News & Politics

In a bid to crackdown on the distribution of the deadly drug fentanyl, multiple GOP lawmakers are backing a bill that would allow the distribution of fentanyl that results in someone’s death to be punishable as a felony murder charge.

Fentanyl is a strong synthetic opioid akin to morphine but significantly more potent, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. “It is a prescription drug that is also made and used illegally,” the NIDA notes.

“Fentanyl is killing Americans at a record high. This deadly drug is widespread throughout our country and has left no community untouched. This bill would make drug dealers pay the price for selling deadly fentanyl,” GOP Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said, according to his press release about the measure.

More than a dozen other Republican senators are backing the proposal, according to the release, which lists Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Bill Hagerty of Tennessee, Rick Scott of Florida, Roger Wicker of Mississippi, John Cornyn of Texas, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Mike Braun of Indiana, Ted Cruz of Texas, Josh Hawley of Missouri, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Steve Daines Montana, and Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi. Rep. Tony Gonzales of Texas introduced the companion bill in the House chamber, according to Rubio’s press release.

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A felony murder conviction entails a life sentence or even the death penalty, according to a Cassidy press release. “Felony murder is equivalent to first-degree, premediated murder and requires a minimum of life and is also eligible for capital punishment if convicted,” the release states.

The text of the bill includes language that states, “Whoever is guilty of murder in the first degree by distributing fentanyl shall be punished by death or by imprisonment for life.”

“Criminals poisoning Americans with fentanyl should be treated the same as someone pulling the trigger of a gun,” Cassidy said, according to the press releases. “If drug dealers and cartels push this deadly substance, they will face justice.”

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