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Arkansas has introduced a bill to toughen the fentanyl penalty



Arkansas – The penalty for anyone who distributes or traffics fentanyl in Arkansas would be increased under a bill that Arkansas Representative Mark Berry has already pre-filed.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 100 times more potent than morphine, according to the CDC. The substance is frequently added to other medications, making them less expensive and riskier.

“Fentanyl is absolutely destroying our communities, and it’s killing our kids. So we have to do something in order to keep fentanyl out of the state of Arkansas,” said Rep. Mark Berry.

Currently, the state’s minimum prison sentence for distributing or trafficking fentanyl is ten years. That would rise to 30 years under this proposal.

Under this plan, a person guilty of selling fentanyl to a fatality would be sentenced to life in prison, serving at least 30 years before becoming eligible for release.

Berry claims that while working on a state police commission, he saw 29 pounds of fentanyl that had been seized near Russellville, which made him aware of the volume of the drug coming through Arkansas.

“That’s enough Fentanyl to kill everybody in the state of Arkansas and part of Tennessee. So, we have to get a lot of that stopped,” he said.
State officials reported 618 overdose deaths in 2021 and about 65% of them were from illicit fentanyl either by itself or in combination with other drugs.
Larry Kenemore is the North American task force leader for Rotary for the addiction prevention program. He says we should be training everyone how to use naloxone just like CPR.

“Recent research that came out from John Hopkins University shows that there is not even 10% of the amount of Naloxone and training that needs to be done in this country to save people. So we’re way behind the curve of saving people’s lives of overdoses,” said Kenemore.

He claims that after teaching classes on its use, rotary clubs all around the world distribute it.

“You hear people all the time tell us that they were standing on a street corner waiting for a streetlight to change in Ohio, and this person fell over right in front of them, and they look down and realize that they quit breathing. And they had Naloxone, whether that’s, that’s the issue is we need more of it,” he said.

This bill will be heard along with others that have been submitted during the upcoming Arkansas legislative session, which begins on Monday (Jan. 9).