The Fentanyl Epidemic May Lead to Changes in U.S. Drug Policies

 Posted on May 05,2023 in Criminal Defense

Harford Criminal LawyerThe United States is facing an unprecedented crisis due to the increased availability of fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid. Fentanyl has been linked to tens of thousands of overdose deaths across the country in recent years, making it one of the leading causes of drug-related fatalities. The rise in fentanyl overdoses has raised alarm bells among public health officials, who are calling for changes to U.S. drug policies that focus on harm reduction rather than pursuing drug charges for those who are accused of possessing or using this deadly substance.

What Is Fentanyl, and Why Is it So Dangerous?

Fentanyl is a synthetic drug that is classified as an opioid. While other types of opioids, including heroin and morphine, are made from poppy plants, fentanyl is synthesized using chemicals. While fentanyl was originally developed in the 1960s as a pain medication, it has seen increased use in recent years as an illegal drug. In many cases, those who have become addicted to prescription painkillers have turned to fentanyl.

One of the primary concerns related to fentanyl involves its potency. One milligram of fentanyl has the same potency as 50 milligrams of heroin or 100 milligrams of morphine. Because fentanyl is so strong, overdoses are much more likely to occur. To make matters worse, fentanyl is sometimes combined with other drugs, such as cocaine, and people may take the drug without realizing it, leading to overdoses.

Combating Fentanyl Overdoses Through Harm Reduction Policies

Over the past several decades, federal and state law enforcement officials have pursued a "war on drugs" that has sought to deter people from using illegal substances by imposing harsh punishments for drug possession or distribution. However, this has not been an effective method of combating drug addiction or overdoses. To better address these issues, many lawmakers and public officials are working to shift the focus to providing treatment for drug addiction and taking other steps to prevent overdose deaths.

These policies are generally referred to as "harm reduction," and they are intended to help people minimize the dangers presented by fentanyl and other drugs. Some of the steps taken by these programs include making test strips available that will allow people to check drugs for the presence of fentanyl, offering needle exchanges, and increasing the availability of naloxone, a medication that can reverse opioid overdoses. People who are involved in drug cases may also be given the opportunity to receive substance abuse treatment as an alternative to criminal prosecution.

Connecticut Drug Charges Related to Fentanyl

While policies may continue to help address the opioid crisis and reduce the number of overdoses, there are still many situations where people may face drug charges related to fentanyl or other controlled substances. In Connecticut, fentanyl is classified as a "narcotic substance." Possession of any amount of a controlled substance may result in Class A misdemeanor charges, and a person may be sentenced to up to one year in jail. If a person is charged with manufacturing, selling, or distributing a narcotic substance, they may face a prison sentence of up to 15 years, as well as up to $50,000 in fines. A second offense may result in a sentence of up to 30 years and a $100,000 fine, while a third or subsequent offense may lead to a 30-year sentence and a maximum fine of $250,000.

Contact Our Hartford Drug Crimes Lawyer

Even though the approach the criminal justice system is taking toward fentanyl is changing, those who are accused of possessing or distributing this substance may still face drug charges and harsh penalties. At Woolf Law Firm, LLC, we provide legal representation for people in these situations, helping them defend against a conviction or determine whether treatment options and sentence reductions may be available. Contact our Connecticut drug charges attorney at 860-290-8690 to arrange a free consultation and get the legal help you need.



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