WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today introduced the Fairness in Fentanyl Sentencing Act of 2023 to crack down on fentanyl trafficking by lowering the threshold required for minimum sentencing in light of the drug’s potency relative to other substances.
The current mandatory minimum threshold does not reflect the substance’s capacity to end lives. For reference, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) states that a mere two milligrams of fentanyl—which can fit on the tip of a pencil—can kill a person. As a result, a lower quantity of fentanyl should trigger a mandatory minimum sentence.
“Fentanyl is 50 times more powerful than heroin. It’s killing Americans, and the justice system needs to make sure that the criminals who are blanketing our communities with fentanyl get sentenced appropriately. The Fairness in Fentanyl Sentencing Act would bring justice to the Louisiana families who have lost loved ones to this scourge,” said Kennedy.
Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Katie Britt (R-Ala.) cosponsored the legislation.
“Current federal mandatory minimums are drastically out of step with the deadly threat fentanyl poses to American lives. Fentanyl-related overdoses kill 70,000 Americans each year and cause a new 9/11 every two weeks. I’m glad to work with my colleagues on this legislation. We know that even a miniscule amount of fentanyl can be lethal. It’s time the federal code treat fentanyl for what it is: a weapon of mass destruction,” said Graham.
“Fentanyl kills over 70,000 Americans each year and is more powerful than most other drugs, but federal sentences for fentanyl trafficking don’t currently reflect its immense threat. We should strengthen these penalties and ensure fentanyl traffickers face the consequences of their crimes,” said Cotton.
“Fentanyl is stealing lives and devastating families in every corner of Alabama and America. This crisis is infiltrating our schools and our communities, and it is past time that we hold the criminals profiting off of this poison accountable. This legislation is an important part of comprehensively addressing the supply of and demand for fentanyl in our country, so we can keep our children safe and our future strong,”said Britt.
Current mandatory minimum sentences for fentanyl trafficking only apply when a trafficker possesses 40 grams or more of fentanyl or 10 grams or more of a fentanyl analogue. The Fairness in Fentanyl Sentencing Act of 2023 would reduce the threshold of possession for minimum prison sentences to two grams of fentanyl or 0.5 grams of a fentanyl analogue.
- Fentanyl is now the leading cause of death among Americans ages 18-45.
- The CDC states that deaths from fentanyl and fentanyl analogues increased 56% from 2019-2020. According to data, that number is expected to increase for 2021.
- Last year, the DEA seized enough fentanyl to kill 379 million people—more than the entire U.S. population.
Full text of the bill is available here.