With one lawmaker calling it a crisis starting “in our medicine cabinets,” the Kentucky House Tuesday voted 96-1 to pass a bill that would fight Kentucky’s opioid addiction epidemic by limiting the amount of opioids pain killers prescribed and increasing jail time for those who deal opioids on the streets. Rep. Lynn Bechler, R-Marion, was the lone lawmaker to vote no.
Rep. James Kay, D-Versailles, praised
provisions in House Bill 333 that would limit prescriptions for
addictive opioid pain killers like oxycodone, fentanyl and morphine to a
three day supply, with exceptions for the terminally-ill and some
others. Addiction, Kay said, usually begins at home with a 30-day
prescription to prescription opioids like Percocet or Lortab—not by
buying drugs on the street.
“This pill problem is starting in
our medicine cabinets, and we’ve got to get it under control,” he said.
“Unfortunately in many, many cases we’re not going to stop addiction
from happening. But we can stop it from happening in our medicine
cabinets. We can stop is from happening in our homes.”
sponsored by Rep. Kim Moser, R-Taylor Mill, would also increase felony
penalties for those who illegally deal in the synthetic opioid pain
killer fentanyl and make it a felony to deal in drugs derived from
fentanyl as well as carfentanil, which is used as an elephant
tranquilizer. Trafficking in any amount of fentanyl, its derivatives or
carfentanil would carry up to 10 years for a first offense, with longer
sentences for repeat offenders and those who deal over certain amounts
of the drugs.
Moser said these are just a few steps that HB 333
would take to solve what she called the “opioid and addiction crisis” in
“We continue to see increases in overdoses and deaths
due to heroin and other opiates,” said Moser. She cited data from the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that shows over 52,000 drug
overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2015. “Sixty three percent, or 33,091 of
those deaths involved an opioid.”
“If Kentucky is, in fact, the epicenter of this crisis, we must be leaders in addressing this crisis head-on,” she said.
333 would also make it a felony carrying up to 10 years in prison to
illegally bring any amount of fentanyl or its derivatives or carfentanil
into the state for sale or distribution. And it would create the felony
offense of “trafficking in a misrepresented controlled substance” for
those who try to pass off fentanyl, its derivatives or carfentanil as a
legitimate prescription drug.
While state law now has strong
penalties for selling heroin, HB 333 would ease penalties for those
found guilty of selling a small amount—under two grams—of heroin if a
court finds the defendant had a substance use disorder involving heroin
when the crime was committed. Those individuals would face one to five
years in prison instead of five to 10 years for others convicted of a
first offense (with higher penalties for repeat offenders).
the bill would exclude cannabidiol, or CBD, products from the
definition of marijuana under state law if the products are approved as a
prescription medication by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Cannabidiol is a cannabis compound that is believe by many to have
medical benefits, although it has not yet been FDA-approved.
is only when and if they become FDA-approved. These are hemp
derivatives—it’s not marijuana—and again, they must be FDA-approved,”
said Moser. “Upon FDA approval, cannabidiol products would not be
allowed as prescriptions if we don’t change this language.”
HB 333 now goes to the Senate.
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