Representative Whelan Files Bill to Criminalize Trafficking of Fentanyl

Tim Whelan

Tim Whelan

HYANNIS – State Representative Tim Whelan (R-Brewster) has filed legislation that adds Fentanyl to the list of dangerous drugs that are subject to prosecution under the state’s narcotic trafficking laws.

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic painkiller that is often mixed with heroin.

The new bill would add Fentanyl to the list of Class B drugs, including cocaine, for which trafficking charges can be brought when individuals are in possession of 18 grams or more of the narcotic.

“Fentanyl has been linked to many of the fatal overdose deaths that have taken place in Massachusetts, but our laws failed to keep up with this growing trend and as a result, police cannot charge individuals with narcotic trafficking even if they are in possession of large quantities of Fentanyl,” said Whelan.

Whelan worked with State Representative Paul Tucker to file the bill.

Both Whelan and Tucker have backgrounds in law enforcement, with Whelan serving as a state police sergeant and Tucker serving as Salem’s oolice chief.

“This is part of a three-step approach of strong law enforcement, treatment and education,” said Tucker. “We must take every step to address this crisis and this bill is a common sense step.”

Current trafficking laws carry a minimum penalty of two years imprisonment and up to 15 years imprisonment for possession of 18 grams or more but less than 36 grams, and a potential fine of between $2,500 and $25,000 in addition to required jail time.

The penalties escalate based on the weight of the narcotic, with a minimum mandatory sentence of 12 years imprisonment and a fine of $50,000 to $500,000 imposed for possession of 200 grams or more.

“This is a common sense bill that crosses political lines and will help to save lives by imposing strong penalties to aggressively prosecute those individuals who traffic in Fentanyl,” said Whelan.

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