For immediate release: October 20, 2015

BOSTON – Representative Mark J. Cusack joined his colleagues in the House of Representatives to pass legislation criminalizing the trafficking of fentanyl. Drug traffickers frequently combine fentanyl, the most potent opioid available for medical use, with heroin which can create a lethal mix.

Under existing law, drug traffickers can only be charged with manufacturing, dispensing, or possessing fentanyl. Closing this loophole comes at a crucial time. The current opioid crisis is becoming increasingly destructive because individuals using heroin are often unaware that the drug contains fentanyl. Fentanyl is 50 to 100 percent more potent than morphine and 30 to 50 percent more potent than heroin.

“It is vital that law enforcement agencies have as many tools in their arsenal as necessary to combat the opioid crisis.  I was happy to support this important piece of legislation that will criminalize the trafficking of Fentanyl,” said Representative Cusack.  “While we must treat addicts as patients and provide them with the treatment they need, those individuals trafficking drugs and spreading this epidemic must be brought to justice.”

Specifically, this legislation:

  • Sets the threshold of fentanyl trafficking at more than ten grams;
  • Includes any derivative or mixture containing fentanyl;
  • Authorizes incarceration in state prison for up to 20 years.

This bill complements unprecedented investments in funding for addiction services and the landmark substance addiction law passed in 2014 which went into effect one week ago. That legislation seeks to set patients on a path to sustainable recovery by both increasing access to care and improving the standard of care. Under the new law, all insurance plans in the Commonwealth will cover acute treatment services, clinical stabilization and medical detox for up to fourteen days.