Today is National Fentanyl Awareness Day. This recognition is an initiative of the federal Drug Enforcement Agency and aims to amplify nationwide efforts to increase awareness and decrease demand for fentanyl, which is a highly addictive synthetic opioid that continues to drive the overdose epidemic. Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine, leaving a tragic trail of abuse and addiction.
To help combat the epidemic, State Representative Tony McCombie has filed legislation in the Illinois House. The first of her two measures is HB 3203, which allows pharmacists and retail stores to sell potentially life-saving fentanyl test strips over the counter. County health departments could also distribute the test strips to the public for free under the bill. HB 3203 is currently in its 3rd reading in the Senate and is expected to pass.
The second bill, HB 3210, escalates the penalties for those caught trafficking fentanyl and making it attractive to kids. Although that bill was prevented from moving forward by the Democrat majority, McCombie will continue to support deterrents to people endangering our children.
“Fentanyl is everywhere. It is effecting every community across our state and in those across our nation. It is a priority for me to find a solution, one that can prevent overdoses and keep our neighborhoods and the families within them safe,” said Rep. McCombie.
McCombie’s efforts stand in stark contrast to Democrats in the legislature. Last session, in the 102nd General Assembly, 61 House Democrats sent the wrong message to those who sell and use fentanyl. HB 3447 decriminalized hard drugs like cocaine, meth, and fentanyl. This session, the Senate Democrats are sponsoring a similar bill, SB1830.
“At a time when kids and families are falling victim to this drug, where a tiny dose can have fatal consequences – our caucus will oppose decriminalizing drugs–and push for measures to hold criminal drug dealers accountable,” continued McCombie.