On Tuesday, the Minnesota Senate passed a bill with bipartisan support to address two issues related to fentanyl. Fentanyl is a scheduled drug that is classified as dangerous with a high risk of abuse but does have some legitimate medical purposes. First, this bill ranks fentanyl at the same threshold as heroin for criminal sentencing purposes, applying to both illegal sales and possession, without affecting legally prescribed usage. It additionally adds fentanyl analogs to the definition to cover other synthetic variations.

“Fentanyl use and addiction is unfortunately a growing problem in Minnesota,” Senator Gene Dornink (R-Hayfield) said Tuesday. “This drug is more serious than any other on the streets and we need to disincentivize it to the best of our ability. A harsh drug deserves harsh penalties, especially for those selling. Access to a drug as harmful and deadly as fentanyl needs to be severely reduced and if the way to do so is by sending dealers away for longer sentences, I fully support that.”

Fentanyl is between forty and one hundred times deadlier than heroin but takes five times as much to make the same penalty threshold. Deaths due to fentanyl have only gone up in Minnesota as the supply continues to rise. Of all tablets seized by law enforcement, 27% contain a potentially lethal dose of fentanyl.

The bill passed off the Senate Floor with bipartisan support and must pass the House before Governor Walz can sign it into law.