Fentanyl overdose deaths have been on a sharp increase across the United States in the past two years with Texas being one of the states in the lead in this drug abuse category. State legislators have also taken action in an effort to combat this growing problem that many also associate with the exponential rise in the number of immigrants arriving at the Mexican border. The chaos created by this activity is also allowing those who smuggle drugs into the United States to be more successful, which in turn has led to a major increase in the amount of the deadly drugs on the streets.
The goal of the legislation
While the ultimate goal of the increased focus on fentanyl deaths in Texas is reducing the number of overdose cases, the actual emphasis is being put on longer jail sentences for individuals who are trafficking in the substance. Fentanyl has long been used as a pain reliever for cancer patients, and it can be administered safely in small recommended amounts by doctors. However, it takes a minimal dosage to also induce death for some, and enhanced drug charges for traffickers were the focus of the bill.
The legislation was signed in July 2021 by Gov. Abbott and increases jail sentences up to 15 years for those convicted of trafficking at least 200 milligrams. Those found guilty of even more will have potential sentences of 20 years for their drug trafficking activity. Recent studies to combat the increase in overdose incidents have shown that as little as two grams of the substance can result in death for some users.
This is just the first step among states in the southwest that will be designed to stop both the flow and the use of the highly dangerous compound.