Alabama House approves stiffer fentanyl penalties

Crushed powdered opioids in spoon with lighter, pills and syringe.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The Alabama House of Representatives has voted to stiffen penalties for distributing fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid blamed for a surge of overdoses.

Representatives voted 89-2 on Thursday for the bill. It now moves to the Alabama Senate where lawmakers will decide whether to go along with House changes.

A person would be convicted of trafficking if they possess more than a gram of fentanyl or 50 packages of a fentanyl mixture. The bill sets minimum mandatory sentences based on the weight.

Republican Rep. April Weaver said fentanyl can kill in tiny amounts.

Rep. Chris England, a former prosecutor, unsuccessfully urged legislators to change state law to allow doctors to be prosecuted for over prescribing.

England said the state should punish all the “bad actors” in the opioid crisis.