Dec 2, 2015 7:15 PM
CONCORD - The Joint Task Force for the Response to the Heroin and Opioid Epidemic in New Hampshire met Wednesday and unanimously recommended legislation that would create identical criminal penalties for distribution of fentanyl that currently exist for heroin.
Currently, the penalty for trafficking any amount of heroin is a seven year term, and any more than 5 grams could mean life in prison.
State lawmakers heard from the Attorney General's Office and the State Drug Lab on the dangers of fentanyl and how it is being manufactured in labs.
Experts say fentanyl can be 30 times stronger than heroin and sometime drug users don't know it is mixed into their heroin.
New Hampshire has already had 295 drug related deaths this year but is expected to have around 357 once toxicology tests are completed.
Senator Jeb Bradley (R-Wolfeboro), Task Force chair, released a statement following the unanimous recommendation.
“Today, Division I of the Joint Task Force took an important step to recommend stronger criminal penalties for distribution for fentanyl to match those that exist for heroin to the full Task Force to be part of early legislation in January,” said Senator Jeb Bradley.
“By strengthening these penalties to mirror those of heroin and other illegal drugs, we hope to deter the trafficking and use of fentanyl, which is even deadlier than heroin and has caused more overdose related deaths than heroin alone.
“We heard strong and compelling testimony from the Attorney General’s Office and the State Forensic Lab who are supportive of the direction this provision takes and we all believe this is the appropriate way to address this problem at this time.
“I am pleased of the action taken by the Division I members today because it sends a strong signal to New Hampshire communities that the legislature is truly committed to ensuring that proposals we review as part of the Task Force will work in practice as intended and that we are taking action as soon as possible to curb the heroin crisis affecting so many in the Granite State,” said Bradley.
This year 135 people died of a fentanyl overdose where no other drugs were involved.
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