AL bill carries increased penalties for heroin, fentanyl

Updated: Feb. 17, 2017 at 3:34 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Penalties for unlawful possession of heroin and fentanyl could be on the rise in Alabama. A bill, passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday, would increase the penalties for unlawful possession from a class D, to a class C felony. The new classification would give the option of jail time as a potential punishment.

Thirty milligrams of heroin can kill an adult male, while it only takes three milligrams of fentanyl to do the same. Currently, in Alabama an unlawful possession charge for either one of these substances does not carry an option for a jail sentence.

Sen. Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) said the bill, if passed, would provide a new tool for lawmakers. However, he said "no one bill" can solve the state's drug problems.

Barry Matson of the Alabama District Attorneys Association said this bill is not about putting people in jail, but a way to get drug addicts off the street and away from drugs that could end up killing them.

"If we had a serial killer that had killed 500 people we would have torches out there looking for that person but it's 'that's ok they died of heroin overdose' but those are somebody's brother, sister, mother, father, child, friend," Matson said.

The bill also includes harsher penalties for dealing fentanyl.

The bill will now await a vote on the Senate floor before moving on to the House.

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