CRIME, POLICE + COURTS
Proposed bill targets those who sell or distribute fentanyl
SALT LAKE CITY — A bill that would make drug-induced homicide a felony is being debated in the state legislature.
Bill sponsor Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, said the bill stems from the rapid growth of fentanyl deaths in Utah. The Utah Dept. of Health reported fentanyl deaths more than doubled from 2019 to 2020, going from 53 to 120 deaths.
“It’s cheap, it’s toxic, it’s deadly. And I think a lot of people don’t realize that such a little pill can kill you,” said Weiler.
Essentially, the bill would adopt drug-induced homicide as a second-degree felony. The bill has faced opposition because of its language. Lawmakers worry someone might be charged with homicide after accidentally or unknowingly giving someone a laced drug.
Weiler plans to substitute a bill to tighten the language and target drug dealers who knowingly distribute laced drugs.
“We’re not necessarily trying to target friends who are sharing drugs,” Weiler said. “I mean the biggest fear I have is we don’t want to do anything that’s going to prevent someone from calling 9-1-1 when someone’s overdosing.”
“I just think we have to do something,” Weiler continued. “We have to at least try to save our kids and to save people who are struggling and trying to escape from life.”
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