Selling Fentanyl Could Mean the Death Penalty Under New Rubio Bill
New legislation from Sen. Marco Rubio (R–Fla.) would make selling fentanyl used in a fatal overdose a federal crime punishable by the death penalty. Rubio’s bill is backed by a dozen other Republican senators, including Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.), Tom Cotton (Ark.), Ted Cruz (Texas), Joni Ernst (Iowa), and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.).
The bill (S.4876) would define selling fentanyl that leads to a fatal overdose as a form of first-degree murder under federal law. A first-degree murder conviction means life in prison at minimum, and possibly the death penalty.
Rubio and co. want people to think we have a fentanyl problem because our laws aren’t tough enough. But not only does selling fentanyl come with heavy penalties on its own, federal law already criminalizes the “distribution of fentanyl causing death” specifically, too.
Under current law, distributing fentanyl that causes death comes with a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life imprisonment (with no possibility of parole, since there is no parole in federal prison).
And yet plenty of people still sell fentanyl. It seems at some point, we have to admit that the threat of punishment—no matter how harsh—isn’t going to stop people from selling drugs, nor get America out of the mess we’ve gotten into with opioids.
Alas, as per usual, politicians’ response to the results of the drug war is…more drug war.
Rubio notes, correctly, that the synthetic opioid “fentanyl is killing Americans at a record high. This deadly drug is widespread throughout our country.”
But he leaves out the fact that fentanyl took off after the government cracked down on prescription painkillers, making legal—and much less deadly—opioids harder to get. He also omits the fact that a lot of fentanyl deaths come from people not knowing the heroin or other drugs they’re taking have been cut with fentanyl, or not knowing how to dose correctly with fentan
Article from Reason.com