Legislation that would allow people seeking medical treatment for an overdose to get immunity for possession of small amounts of fentanyl is being considered at the Illinois statehouse.
Senate amendments to House Bill 17, introduced by state Sen. Laura Ellman, D-Naperville, would strengthen the penalty for those who distribute fentanyl. She said the measure would also protect those looking to help someone in a life-threatening situation.
“There will be safeguards for those who are seeking help, for those who are using, or whose friends, colleagues, families have used it and are facing an overdose crisis,” Ellman said at a news conference.
Fentanyl is a synthetic drug that has been artificially added to many different street drugs such as cocaine and heroin. The drug is extremely lethal with only a small amount being able to cause someone’s death.
Since 2013, fentanyl-related deaths in Illinois have increased by 2,736%, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. The increase has led many lawmakers calling for changes to the states laws.
“Our laws are stuck in a period that existed before the 90s,” said state Sen. Robert Peters, D-Chicago. “A different world and a different time requires all of us to take a different approach.”
Ellman’s amendments to the House bill, if approved, would also increase the penalties for those individuals trying to distribute the drug.
“If any of those drugs have even a trace of fentanyl and they are convicted and sentenced to prison time, this would add another three years to their prison sentence,” Ellman said.
The original House bill passed nearly unanimously last year, but if amended in the Senate and passed, the House could concur before the end of session April 8.
This article was originally posted on Lawmakers look to give immunity for fentanyl possession if seeking overdose intervention