Rep. Frey co-sponsors legislation to strengthen state drug law

State Rep. John Frey (R-111) has joined his colleagues and unanimously passed legislation that will make the sale and distribution of the synthetic opioid fentanyl a felony.

“I’m proud to join my colleagues to put drug dealers on notice that they will not continue to inflict pain and suffering on our state without being held accountable,” Rep. Frey, a co-sponsor of the bill, said. “These deadly drugs being sold in every community in our state are killing people and destroying families, and the dealers could care less who they harm. This legislation will give our police and courts the power they need to put dealers in prison where they belong.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fentanyl is a synthetic opioid analgesic used to reduce pain by depressing the central nervous system and respiratory functions of the user. The drug does not usually cause a loss of consciousness. They estimate fentanyl to be 80 times more potent than morphine and hundreds of times more potent than heroin.

HB 5524 – An Act Increasing the Penalties for the Sale of Fentanyl – formally classifies the synthetic opioid fentanyl as a narcotic substance, and further defines the compounds or components of fentanyl as narcotic substances, including those drugs that are chemically equivalent or identical to fentanyl.  Under Connecticut law, the penalties for certain illegal actions involving narcotics are higher than those for certain other non-narcotic controlled substances, including illegally manufacturing, distributing, selling, and prescribing narcotics.

Still, fentanyl-related deaths are on the rise statewide. According to statistics from the state’s chief medical examiner, fentanyl was present in about 4% of drug overdose deaths in 2012 and more than 75% of drug overdose deaths in 2018.

“We’ve taken strong steps in the legislature to reduce, and hopefully one day eliminate, the opioid crisis yet the statistics show we still have a way to go,” Rep. Frey said. “This legislation will be another tool for law enforcement to shut down drug dealers and help protect the people of Connecticut.”

In recent years, other pieces of legislation aimed at reducing opioid-related addiction and death have passed the legislature.  Public Act 17-131 requires medication prescriptions be transcribed electronically to safeguard against overprescribing, reduced the maximum number of days for a prescription from seven to five for minors and allows patients to request drugs other than opioids be prescribed. Public Act 16-43 Public Act 16-43 Public Act 16-43Public Act 16-43 requires municipalities to equip and train their first responders to administer naloxone, an overdose reversing drug, limits the number of pills in an opioid prescription to a seven-day supply and prohibits commercial health carriers from requiring prior authorization for coverage of naloxone. Public Act 15-198 allows pharmacists to prescribe opioid antagonists.

The 2019 legislative session ends at midnight on Wednesday, June 5.