Excerpted from The Daily Pilot
By Matt Szabo
The usage and trafficking of the drug fentanyl has exploded in California in recent years, leading two Orange County legislators to push for stricter penalties in a bipartisan effort.
Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Laguna Beach), who represents the 74th District, hosted a virtual news conference Tuesday along with state Sen. Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) and Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes.
Assembly Bill 1351 was coauthored by Petrie-Norris and Bates and would reclassify fentanyl as a Schedule 1 drug like cocaine or heroin in California’s criminal code, enacting the greatest restrictions and penalties on its use.
Existing law classifies fentanyl as a Schedule 2 drug. Senate Bill 75, introduced by Bates, was coauthored by Petrie-Norris and is a mirrored bill also seeking to lower the number of fentanyl-related deaths in the state.
AB 1351 and SB 75 also authorize courts to impose a fine between $20,000 and $8 million for each offense. They are expected to be heard by the Assembly and Senate Public Safety Committees this spring.
“It seems like the opioid crisis is the one thing in California that has not paused for COVID-19,” Petrie-Norris said during the news conference. “It is raging all across our state, leaving destruction, death and heartache in its wake ... Fentanyl is now the leading cause of opioid deaths. It’s one of the most dangerous and deadly substances in the world. Just two milligrams is enough to kill.”