03.10.21 State, feds, aim to crack down on dealers peddling deadly fentanyl

Excerpted from OC Register 

By Teri Sforza

In the eyes of the law, fentanyl is not considered a serious “Schedule I” drug, even though two grains can kill in a matter of minutes.

“California’s criminal code treats fentanyl less seriously than heroin and cocaine,” said  Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris, D-Laguna Beach. “This just does not make any sense. It has created perverse and deadly incentives, leading to a huge increase in fentanyl coming across our borders.”

Alexandra Capelouto (Courtesy Capelouto family)

Right now, dealers can get extra time and higher fines for peddling heroin and cocaine than they face for peddling fentanyl. Working across the aisle, Petrie-Norris and Sen. Pat Bates, R-Laguna Niguel, have introduced complementary bills that would bump fentanyl up from its spot as a less-threatening Schedule II drug to what they say is its rightful place as a dangerous Schedule I drug.

“Fentanyl is not marijuana, it’s not heroin, it’s not cocaine,” Bates said. “It’s a synthetic opioid 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine and can kill in just 2 minutes after ingestion. The California legislature must act and treat fentanyl as the exceptionally dangerous drug it is.”

Officials have been trying to do this for six years. “Today we need to act once and for all,” Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said Tuesday. “The greatest travesty would be that we have three new parents next year telling the same story.”