A former federal prosecutor is raising concerns that Alabama’s proposed crackdown on the synthetic opioid fentanyl could end up putting low-level users behind bars for years.
Former U.S. Attorney Kenyen Brown told the Alabama House Health Committee yesterday that under the proposed law, a person with a trace amount of fentanyl mixed with other drugs could potentially be prosecuted as a major drug trafficker.
The bill, which has already passed the state Senate, would set mandatory minimum sentences based on the weight of the drug recovered. Possession of one gram of fentanyl would carry a minimum sentence of three years in prison. Brown says the concern is that small amounts of fentanyl are often mixed with other drugs, and cases are prosecuted based on the mixture’s total weight.
Supporters note that fentanyl is far deadlier than other opioids including heroin and is dosed in micrograms in a medical setting.
Senator Cam Ward, the bill’s sponsor, says he’s open to changing the legislation.