COLUMBUS—State Senator Frank LaRose (R-Hudson) introduced legislation today to ensure that Ohio's drug abuse laws appropriately reflect the potency of fentanyl-related substances and address their growing prevalence in overdose deaths.

“Fentanyl and carfentanil are killing our fellow Ohioans in record numbers," said LaRose. "It is not an overstatement to call it an epidemic." 
Fentanyl, a drug typically prescribed in clinical settings, is used as a powerful synthetic opiate to treat or manage pain after surgery. In some instances, the drug is prescribed to treat patients with chronic pain who don't respond well to other painkillers. Fentanyl is 30 to 50 times more potent than heroin.

The number of unintentional drug overdose deaths in Ohio increased again in 2015, driven by a sharp rise in fentanyl-related deaths, according to a recent report released by the Ohio Department of Health (ODH). Fentanyl-related deaths in Ohio have skyrocketed from 84 in 2013, to 503 in 2014 and rose to 1,155 in 2015. For comparison, the Highway Patrol reported 1,110 traffic fatalities in 2015.

"This stuff is lethal and it affects every corner of our state. Our fellow Ohioans want us to address this scourge on our communities," added LaRose. "I believe that addicts need to be in treatment and drug dealers belong behind bars. This legislation was crafted to punish traffickers without ensnaring addicts." 

Senator LaRose's legislation targets individuals trafficking fentanyl related substances. Those selling fentanyl will face tougher punishments. This legislation would lower the amount of fentanyl needed to receive higher-level felony convictions that carry longer sentences. It also provides a balance by not imprisoning those suffering from drug addiction.

Offenders charged with the possession of smaller amounts of the lethal substance will have the option to undergo drug treatment at the time of sentencing. These changes specify that when a fentanyl related drug conviction is connected to a homicide conviction, the prison time for each conviction will be consecutive, adding the amount of prison time for offenders who cause death involving fentanyl.
The bill also harmonizes state law with federal law by adding lisdexamfetamine to the Ohio schedule of controlled substances. Lisdexamfetamine is used to treat ADHD and hyperactivity and presents a high risk of abuse, especially in juveniles.
This legislation passed the Ohio Senate last year with broad bipartisan support. It enjoys a large list of bi-partisan co-sponsors this legislative session. Senate Bill 1 will be referred to a Senate committee where it will receive further consideration. 

Senate President Larry Obhof today named Senator LaRose as chair of the Senate Transportation, Commerce and Workforce Committee. 

"Transportation is not only an area that impacts the daily lives of all Ohioans, but is also essential to our economic prosperity," said LaRose. "I'm proud to lead this effort to help ensure that the state’s transportation policies increase opportunities, maintain safety and promote job growth."

LaRose will oversee the committee responsible for crafting the state’s biennial transportation budget, including the improvement of Ohio's roads and highways and important public safety issues. 

President Obhof also appointed LaRose to serve as Vice Chair of the Senate Public Utilities Committee in addition to serving as a member of the Agriculture Committee, Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Finance Sub Committee on General Government Oversight and Agency Review, and the Government Oversight and Reform Committee. 

Click here for a complete list of Senate Committee assignments for the 132nd Ohio General Assembly. 

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