Nov 11, 2015 3:23 PM

NH Republicans, Democrats agree fentanyl should be treated same as heroin

The Associated Press

CONCORD - Increasing the penalties for people who deal in the powerful drug fentanyl is a key priority for lawmakers, with broad agreement among Republicans and Democrats that it should be treated the same as heroin.

Fentanyl was responsible for 165 of 258 overdose deaths so far this year, up from 17 in 2011.

But the increased focus on fentanyl comes at a time when the state forensics lab, responsible for testing drug samples, is already facing a crushing backlog of cases.

State officials say the proposal is unlikely to send many more samples to the lab. But, given the backlog, the lab prioritizes testing samples needed for pending court dates.

An increased focus on fentanyl penalties could step up pressure on the lab to turn cases around quickly.

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