SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Senate Republicans introduced legislation Tuesday going after drug dealers who intentionally sell drugs laced with fentanyl.
From 2019 to 2020, the CDC reports deaths from synthetic drugs –including fentanyl — rose more than 56%.
And from 2013 to 2020, in Illinois, the percentage of fentanyl overdose deaths spiked 2,736% according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
“As lawmakers, we cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the staggering trend,” Senate Deputy Minority Leader Sue Rezin (R-Morris) said. “We need to confront it now. We need to hold those who are selling the drug accountable.”
The bill makes two new penalties and offenses for selling fentanyl. It creates a new Class X felony under the Illinois Controlled Substances Act — punishable by nine to 40 years in prison. A Class X felony carries a sentence of six to 30 years in prison and anyone charged with one is not eligible for probation.
The proposal also includes a $100,000 fine for people using electronic communication devices to sell controlled substances that contain any amount of fentanyl.
“It’s important that we support and care for those that are afflicted with addiction, but send a strong message to those who seek to make a profit off of this poison,” Sen. Sally Turner (R-Beason) said.
McLean County State’s Attorney Erika Reynolds said the bill will not target people struggling with addiction.
“If you cut off the supplier, if you cut off the person that is giving them these drugs, and you put these people in prison where they belong, it’s going to be much more difficult for those people to find themselves in a vulnerable situation and gain access to those drugs,” Reynolds said.
In September, House Republicans introduced a bill to add tougher restrictions on the possession and distribution of fentanyl.
Democrats have backed legislation lowering the penalties for those possessing small amounts of controlled substances like fentanyl, but Turner believes she can get Democrats on board with her legislation.
“Everyone has been touched by this in some form or fashion,” Turner said. “If they haven’t, they’re going to be. So I think that we’ll see some coming together [on] this and trying to address this huge problem that we have.”