CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) — West Virginia has a tough new law aimed at cracking down on fentanyl and those who sell it. The bill is meant to protect first responders since emergency crews can be exposed to Fentanyl without even knowing it.
Governor Jim Justice signed Senate Bill 566 into law while he was surrounded by a group of law enforcement officers and legislators. The new law doubles the penalties for knowingly exposing government workers, especially first responders, to synthetic heroin known as fentanyl.
More and more, fentanyl is being cut into other illegal drugs as filler to stretch profit margins, but it can be very lethal.
“Marijuana laced with Fentanyl or cocaine laced with fentanyl, or meth, and that’s the problem. You think you’re getting something else, and you’re getting a fentanyl which can kill you,” said State Sen. Ron Stollings, M.D., (D) Boone, who is a physician.
“We’ve got to do something, don’t we? And when it really boils down right down to it, we’ve to give ammunition and strength to these great law enforcement folks,” said Gov. Jim Justice.
Numerous emergency workers have been made sick by fentanyl as they handled drug evidence, that they did not know was laced with it. By doubling the penalties, Governor Justice hopes to deter dealers from bringing it into West Virginia.
Aside from boosting law enforcement, Governor Justice signed another bill into law to make it easier for people to get substance abuse treatment and mental health assistance in an emergency situation.