Bill raises mandatory minimums for fentanyl crimes

Empower Wisconsin | Jan. 17, 2023

By M.D. Kittle

MADISON — As fentanyl continues to take its deadly toll, U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-Glenbeulah) is introducing a bill that would put the synthetic opioid’s criminal penalties on par with another killer drug that has ravaged America.

Grothman and Rep. Jim Banks (R-Indiana), who served as Republican Study Committee chairman, have introduced the Standardizing Thresholds of Penalties (STOP) for Fentanyl Act. The bill would reduce the threshold for mandatory minimum penalties for fentanyl-related offenses, with quantity thresholds on par with methamphetamine.

The lawmakers say mandatory minimum penalties for fentanyl-related offenses are not proportionate to the drug’s public health hazard. Fentanyl is 50 times more deadly than heroine, but fentanyl offenders often receive more lenient sentences than pushers of other drugs, like methamphetamine, for trafficking the same amount of lethal doses. This inconsistency has been underscored by the fact that a record 379 million lethal doses of deadly fentanyl was seized by the Drug Enforcement Administration in 2022, more than enough to kill every American.

“We recently surpassed 100,000 drug overdose deaths within 12 months for the first time in American history, largely driven by the use of fentanyl,” said Grothman. “This is a large-scale epidemic in need of immediate attention.”

Currently, to trigger a 10-year mandatory minimum sentence under the Controlled Substances Act, an offense must involve 400 or more grams of a mixture or substance containing fentanyl. Because the average lethal dose of fentanyl is 2 milligrams, the offense would need to contain roughly 200,000 lethal doses in order to trigger the 10-year mandatory minimum.

By comparison, to trigger the 10-year mandatory minimum for methamphetamine, the offense would have to involve at least 500 grams, which contains roughly 2,500 lethal doses.

The STOP Fentanyl Act:

  • Amends the Controlled Substances Act and Controlled Substances Import and Export Act to reduce the 10-year mandatory minimum threshold for fentanyl offenses from 400 grams to 5 grams and fentanyl analogue offenses from 10 grams to 0.05 grams
  • Amends the Controlled Substances Act and Controlled Substances Import and Export Act to reduce the 5-year mandatory minimum threshold for fentanyl offenses from 40 grams to 0.5 grams and fentanyl analogue offenses from 10 grams to 0.005 grams
  • Clarifies that fentanyl analogues can include both scheduled and unscheduled.

Fentanyl is officially the leading cause of death for Americans ages 18 to 49.

Lauri Badura’s son Archie was one of the drugs victims. Archie was, at the time, 77 days into recovery. He was one of six drug-overdose fatalities in his Wisconsin county that weekend alone.

Badura had no idea what fentanyl was then. She has spent the past eight years spreading the word about the deadly synthetic opioid through the nonprofit Saving Others for Archie (SOFA).

“Eight years later and this thing has blown up,” she told Wisconsin Spotlight in October. “Right now we’re losing 9,000 citizens a month to fentanyl across America.”

The latest data from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services underscore an epidemic that has been fueled in large part by President Biden’s porous border policies. Record levels of fentanyl are entering the U.S. through Mexico, leaving a wake of destruction.

According to DHS, there were 1,427 opioid-related deaths last year in the Badger State, a 16 percent increase over 2020, and a 70 percent jump in deaths from 2018.

More than 1,300 of the state’s opioid-related deaths last year involved synthetic opioids — most of those, fentanyl.

“The lack of leadership from the White House concerning the border is encouraging drug traffickers to profit from the Administration’s open border policies,” Grothman said. “Border Patrol agents have told me that the cartels intentionally overflow certain areas of the Southern border, diverting resources, and creating vulnerable spots in other areas along the border that would otherwise be guarded.”

“It is an ongoing tragedy that Americans are paying the price of bad immigration policy in tens of thousands of human lives. This bill will bring a sorely-needed increase to the penalty of trafficking deadly fentanyl.”

Grothman and Banks were joined by 20 House co-sponsors, including Reps. Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau), Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Rep Scott DesJarlais (R- Tenn.). 

“Fentanyl is impacting every family and community in America. This legislation will help ensure the criminals selling and trafficking this extremely potent drug are held accountable,” Banks said.

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One response to “Bill raises mandatory minimums for fentanyl crimes”

  1. Keith Aronson Avatar
    Keith Aronson

    Full support for these acts thank you Republicns

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