Woman in care

Harsh New Fentanyl Laws Ignite Debate Over How to Combat Overdose Crisis

By Jan Hoffman | The New York Times

Three teenage girls were found slumped in a car in the parking lot of a rural Tennessee high school last month, hours before graduation ceremonies. Two were dead from fentanyl overdoses. The third, a 17-year-old, was rushed to the hospital in critical condition. Two days later, she was charged with the girls’ murders.

Prosecutors cited a Tennessee law that permits homicide charges to be brought against someone who gives fentanyl to a person who dies from it.

“We have this law to punish drug dealers who poison and kill people,” said Mark E. Davidson, the district attorney who is prosecuting the case in Fayette County, Tenn. “And we also want it to be a deterrent to those who continue to do these drugs.”

Dozens of states, devastated by unrelenting overdose deaths, have been enacting similar legislation and other laws to severely ratchet up penalties for a drug that can kill with just a few milligrams.

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