COLUMBUS—State Senator Scott Oelslager (R-North Canton) has co-sponsored legislation to revise Ohio’s drug abuse laws, sponsored by Senator Frank LaRose(R-Hudson). The legislation, which passed out of the Ohio Senate last General Assembly with wide-bipartisan support, ensures Ohio law appropriately reflects the potency of fentanyl-related substances.

Fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opiate often used for post-surgery recovery or to manage chronic pain, is 30 to 50 times more potent than heroin. In a recent report by the Ohio Department of Health, fentanyl-related deaths have risen from 84 in 2013, to 503 in 2014, to 1,155 in 2015. Fentanyl can be extremely lethal, even in the smallest dose. One major concern is the mixing of fentanyl with heroin, often unbeknownst to the user. While Narcan is useful in reviving an individual from an overdose, one dose is often not strong enough when an individual is suffering from a fentanyl-related overdose.

Senate Bill 1 would lower the amount of fentanyl needed to be sentenced for higher level felony convictions, specifically targeting traffickers of the drug. The bill also seeks to help those suffering from addiction by offering necessary treatment at the time of sentencing. Finally, this legislation adds lisdexamfetamine to the list of Schedule II controlled substances. This drug is often used to treat ADHD and hyperactivity, but presents a high risk of abuse, especially in juveniles.

“Senate Bill 1 takes necessary steps to get fentanyl-traffickers off the streets, while ensuring those suffering from crippling addiction are able to get the help they need,” said Oelslager. “Ohio has seen far too many deaths from heroin and fentanyl-related overdoses. It is crucial we prevent trafficking of large quantities of this dangerous drug, while continuing to educate our communities about addiction and treatment.”

Senate Bill 1 was introduced on January 31, 2017, and has been referred to the Senate Judiciary committee for consideration.

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