NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A bill filed in the Tennessee General Assembly would classify fentanyl and its derivatives as chemical warfare agents like tear gas, nerve agents and blister agents.
Tullahoma Republican Sen. Janice Bowling filed SB 1115 this legislative session.
Under present law, it is a Class B felony for anyone to possess, develop, manufacture, produce, transfer, acquire, weaponize or retain a chemical warfare agent. The term “chemical warfare agent” is defined in Tennessee Code to include nerve agents, blood agents, blister agents, choking agents, pesticides, dioxins, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), flammable industrial gases and liquids, and tear gases and other disabling chemicals. This list was initially crafted under the Terrorism Prevention and Response Act of 2002.
The bill would add fentanyl to the list of “chemical warfare agents,” as well as several fentanyl derivatives: carfentanil, remifentanil, alfentanil, thiafentanil or other fentanyl derivatives.
By classifying fentanyl as a chemical warfare agent, the opioid would also be considered a weapon of mass destruction according to Tennessee Code. If found in violation, that would be a Class B Felony, punishable by up to 30 years in prison and fines up to $25,000.
If passed, the bill would go into effect on July 1.
The Senate bill hasn’t seen much movement since being assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee in February, but the House companion bill, HB 717, is scheduled for discussion in the Criminal Justice Subcommittee on Tuesday, March 21.