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New Alabama Law Charges Fentanyl Sellers with Manslaughter

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DOTHAN, Ala (WDNews) – Alabama has enacted a new law that charges anyone who knowingly sells fentanyl with manslaughter.

Sponsored by State Representative Chris Pringle (R-District 101), House Bill 10 aims to hold drug dealers accountable for fatal overdoses. Pringle, who knew individuals who overdosed on fentanyl, stated, “The drug dealers are vicious, vicious, nasty people. My bill simply says if you sell a controlled substance and you are not a doctor, or a pharmacist, and you cause somebody’s death, we can charge you with manslaughter.”

According to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics, more than 136 Americans die from opioids every day. Some, like Angie Cheshire, whose son died from a heroin overdose, feel the bill doesn’t go far enough. “I’m just worried now that law enforcement will say, ‘well, we can’t investigate. There’s not fentanyl,’” said Cheshire.

Lori Myles, public affairs director for the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office, lost her son to a fentanyl overdose in 2022. She believes the bill is a significant step for Alabama. “Drug dealers, when they’re mixing fentanyl with other drugs, they know what they’re doing,” Myles said. “They need to be held accountable for the dangerous position they put others in.”

Virginia Guy, Executive Director of the Drug Education Council, agrees the law will send a strong message to drug dealers. “This is going to put the dealers of death on notice that if they sell any kind of fentanyl, they can be charged to the fullest extent of the law. They’re not using guns, they’re not using knives, they’re using fentanyl.”

Manslaughter, classified as a Class B felony, can result in up to 20 years in prison for those convicted. As fentanyl-related deaths continue to rise, Pringle, Myles, and Guy emphasize the importance of spreading awareness.

Pringle and Guy also hope to introduce a new bill requiring all overdose victims and jailed drug offenders to take a saliva test to screen for fentanyl.