California State Senate fails to pass bill to further punish fentanyl drug dealers


U.S. Attorneys Office for Utah/AP Photo

Fentanyl can easily be laced into different pills with unregulated contents

On March 27, the California State Senate failed to pass Senate Bill 44, also known as Alexandra’s Law. The bill proposed that anyone selling controlled substances laced with deadly amounts of fentanyl could be charged with homicide. 

Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, has been plastered all over U.S. news headlines due to the alarming amount of fatalities caused by its potency. Fentanyl is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more powerful than morphine, making two milligrams a lethal dose for most. To create a stronger high for users, drug dealers often lace fentanyl into other drugs, in lethal quantities.

 The fentanyl epidemic has hit San Francisco and California particularly hard. 

“California now leads the way in the nation in the number of fentanyl deaths, and we don’t have a single law that holds drug dealers accountable for those deaths,” according to David González from  ABC 7 news

In an attempt to combat the epidemic, part of the bipartisan bill would have held dealers accountable for preventable death. The bill proposed that if someone dealing narcotics pleaded guilty to lacing their drugs with fentanyl, directly leading to the buyer’s death, the dealer would face homicide charges.

“If you do so in the future and a person dies as a result of that action, you may be charged with homicide, up to and including the crime of murder,” part of the bill said.

Opponents of the bill argued that if the bill were to pass, prison populations in the state would skyrocket, straining prison resources.

“[We’ve been] through long periods in this country of incarcerating drug dealers, including low-level drug dealers,” California State Sen. Scott Wiener said, adding that mass incarceration of drug dealers “did not solve the problem.” 

Marin County Sheriff Jamie Scardina supported the bill. 

“I think this bill could have given law enforcement another tool to help combat the ever-growing fentanyl poisonings and deaths. Many drug dealers are knowingly lacing drugs with fentanyl and using counterfeit pills as fentanyl,” Scardina said.

Proponents of Alexandra’s Law plan to collect signatures from the public to bypass lawmakers by gathering adequate signatures to be certified by state officials to appear on the ball