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Wicker, Hyde-Smith push for harsher penalties for fentanyl distribution

Photos courtesy of U.S. Senator Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith. Graphic by News Mississippi

United States Senators Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) joined 11 other senators in introducing legislation to make the distribution of fentanyl resulting in death chargeable as felony murder.

Hyde-Smith and Wicker signed the Felony Murder for Deadly Fentanyl Distribution Act (S.4876) on Thursday in response to the over 2,000 pounds of fentanyl that was seized at the border in July. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the total amount of recovered fentanyl was enough to kill 469 million Americans.

“This legislation is desperately needed to protect our communities by ensuring harsher consequences to those who knowingly distribute this deadly drug in Mississippi and across the country,” Hyde-Smith said.

In instances of deaths resulting from illegal fentanyl-related opiates, the act would amend the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) to make it a felony to distribute fentanyl if the dealer has prior knowledge that the substance being dealt contains fentanyl.

“The lethal drug fentanyl is destroying lives across the country, and dealers who put it on our streets should be held responsible,” Wicker said. “This bill would send a strong signal that the federal government will not tolerate this deadly drug which is tearing apart communities, or those who distribute it.”

Under current law, the CSA mandates a 20-year minimum and no more than life for purpose to distribute Schedule I and Schedule II drugs resulting in death.

Additional S.4876 cosponsors include Senators Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-La.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), and Steve Daines (R-Mont.).

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