Democrats make last-minute changes to ease criminal penalties in bill meant to save thousands of drug-related deaths
Nevada Democrats have made last-minute changes to a bill aimed at cracking down on fentanyl possession by dramatically softening the legislation’s threshold on how much a person could possess that would be considered low-level trafficking .
The amended bill, SB35, was introduced to the state legislature by progressive Democratic Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford last week, just hours before the deadline for it to pass the committee. judiciary of the Assembly.
According to Ford, the amendment came as a “compromise between the many groups interested in this issue” and included lowering the low-level trafficking charge for possession of fentanyl from 4 grams to 28 grams.
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According to the United States Drug Enforcement Agency, 28 grams of fentanyl is enough to kill up to 14,000 people, while 4 grams is enough to kill up to 2,000 people.
A source close to the debate on the bill told Fox News Digital that the back-and-forth between Democrats over the threshold on trafficking charges included concerns about how the state would prosecute the mixing of fentanyl with other substances.
The source added that there are also concerns that a stricter threshold could amount to “war on drugs” policies that crack down on low-level users as harshly as drug traffickers.
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The push for the new crime bill comes amid a worsening fentanyl crisis and just years after Nevada Democrats, with Ford Supportpassed a 2019 bill that weakened penalties for larger amounts of drug possession, including fentanyl.
The 2019 bill, AB236, allowed a person in possession of fentanyl to be charged with a misdemeanor only unless the amount possessed was at least 100 grams, an amount the DEA said could kill between 300,000 and 500,000 people. Before this bill passed, the previous low-level traffic threshold was set at 4 grams, the amount the new bill would have reverted to until last-minute changes from Democrats.
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Contrary to Democrat push for a softened drug trafficking threshold, the Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo called for any possession of fentanyl to be classified as a crime.