WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Rick Scott (R-FL), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), and Roger Wicker (R-MS) today introduced a bill to charge illicit fentanyl drug dealers with murder. The Felony Murder for Deadly Fentanyl Distribution Act would add the distribution of fentanyl, resulting in death, to the list of crimes that are eligible to be charged as felony murder.
“Criminals poisoning Americans with fentanyl should be treated the same as someone pulling the trigger of a gun,” said Dr. Cassidy. “If drug dealers and cartels push this deadly substance, they will face justice.”
Felony murder is equivalent to first-degree, premediated murder and requires a minimum of life and is also eligible for capital punishment if convicted.
Later, Cassidy joined another group of colleagues to hold the CEOs of Instagram, TikTok, Snap Inc., and YouTube accountable for their failure to adequately prevent the sale of fentanyl-laced pills to teenagers and young adults on their platforms.
“Social media platforms like yours provide a convenient venue for dealers to anonymously and discreetly peddle these counterfeit pills to a young audience,” wrote the senators.
“With 4 in 10 of these pills containing a lethal dose of fentanyl, more and more of these online transactions are ending in tragedy,” continued the senators.
In addition to Cassidy, the letter was signed by Senators Daines (R-MT), Lee (R-UT), Blackburn (R-TN), Sullivan (R-AK), Marshall (R-KS), Lankford (R-OK), and Hyde-Smith (R-MS). Read the full letter here.
Fentanyl is now the leading cause of death among adults age 18-45. According to the CDC, illicitly manufactured fentanyl was the leading cause of overdose deaths, accounting for 71,328 lost lives in 2021, up from 57,834 in 2020, with an even sharper increase expected in 2022.
In July, Cassidy lead a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing on the fentanyl crisis, during which he laid out a strategy to combat the surge in fentanyl and overdose deaths. Cassidy also highlighted his HALT Fentanyl Act which would permanently make fentanyl a Schedule I drug.