With Overdoses Up, States Look at Harsher Fentanyl Penalties

Nevada state lawmakers nationwide are responding to the deadliest overdose crisis in U.S. history by pushing penalties for possessing fentanyl and other powerful lab-made opioids that are connected to about 70,000 deaths a year.

Imposing longer prison sentences for possessing smaller amounts of drugs represents a shift in states that in recent years have rolled back drug possession penalties. Proponents of tougher penalties say this crisis is different and that, in most places, the stiffer sentences are intended to punish drug dealers, not just users.

But the strategy is alarming recovery advocates who say focusing on the criminal angle of drugs has historically backfired, including when lawmakers elevated crack cocaine penalties in the 1980s.

Read more: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/state-lawmakers-consider-harsher-penalties-for-fentanyl-related-crimes

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