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Harsher penalties could be coming for drug dealers in La.

Harsher penalties could be coming for drug dealers in LA
Published: Apr. 5, 2022 at 5:07 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 5, 2022 at 5:24 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The penalty for getting caught selling drugs laced with fentanyl is no slap on the wrist.

Under current law, you could spend five to 40 years in prison and pay a fine of up to $50,000.

State Senator Glen Womack (R - Harrisonburg) is looking at taking it a step further. He wants to increase the minimum and maximum serving time by three years and increase the maximum fine to $100,000. Senator Bodi White (R - Baton Rouge) was on board with the bill but offered a stronger take.

“Eventually, you’re gonna see it if it continues and China keeps pumping this drug into our country, you’re gonna see it go back to a death penalty like heroin used to be,” Sen. White said.

Sen. White suggested the minimum prison time be raised to 10 years and the max to 45. The committee agreed and adopted the amendment. The bill also removes fentanyl testing strips from the list of drug paraphernalia, making them legal. Some bills hit closer to home for lawmakers than others. This one prompted several of them to share how bad the problem has gotten in their own communities.

“I have a very good friend who lost a 24-year-old son about two weeks ago from fentanyl,” Sen. Rick Ward (R - Port Allen).

“Rural areas like the ones we represent are suffering every day because of fentanyl and...it’s heartbreaking,” Sen. Beth Mizell (R- Franklinton) added.

A Louisiana mother is joining forces with advocates and supporters in putting one foot in front of the other to raise awareness about the state’s drug epidemic.

“Sen. [Regina] Barrow (D - Baton Rouge) has it in her community, the inner city. I have it in the suburbs, you have it in the country, it’s the most prevalent drug in the united states right now,” Sen. White explained.

The bill passed out of committee with the panel’s full support. It now awaits full approval on the Senate floor.

There has yet to be an answer to this growing problem, but lawmakers today agreed this is a step in the right direction. Mostly because it intensifies an existing penalty without creating any new criminal charges.

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