COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA) — Families from across the state shared their stories of loss Thursday at the South Carolina State House.
They all had one thing in common, they lost someone to a fatal fentanyl overdose.
Lisa Montgomery’s son died of an overdose in 2020. Montgomery urged lawmakers to pass legislation to establish penalties for fentanyl-induced homicide.
She said, “It only takes a spark to light a fire and create a difference. I pray today to start that flicker and put an end to the blanket statement of drug dealers eluding they do not know fentanyl is laced in their drugs.”
The bill advanced in the Senate Judiciary subcommittee Thursday along with a bill that enhances penalties for people caught trafficking fentanyl.
Officials with the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) said they seized 17 kilograms of fentanyl in 2022. That equated to about 11 million doses.
“We need a trafficking statute with minimum, maximum (sentences) to reduce what we’re seeing on the street with this fentanyl epidemic,” said Major Frank O’Neal with SLED Narcotics.
Criminal defense attorneys said the legislation, as currently written, could lead to some unintended consequences.
Immediate past president of the SC Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Marion Moses said, “Our recommendation is there should be some knowledge and intent language in the statute.”
Both bills will be taken up by the Senate Judiciary Committee in the near future.