Taking Action Against Fentanyl and Antiquated Laws!

Before you continue reading I need you to do something: look at President Lincoln’s face on a penny. Do you see his nose? Imagine if his little nose was covered in fentanyl - that small amount is enough to kill you. That is terrifying! Fentanyl is a public health and public safety crisis and I am working to change our State’s outdated laws to address this problem.

As we know, fentanyl is now being mixed in with other substances. According to the NYC Department of Health, 81% of drug deaths had detectable amounts of fentanyl. While drug addiction is a disease, like alcoholism, we must go after those who are selling drugs and correct the antiquated laws that hinder prosecutors from keeping us safe.

One of the ways the State can save lives is by amending the current drug laws and allowing synthetic versions of drugs to be included in the statute. Currently, the law states that in order to be arrested or prosecuted, drugs must be named in the law, also known as “the list.” Without that drug being exactly listed, prosecutors are forced to bring lesser charges forward. This outdated process stems from the Rockefeller Drug Laws from the 1970’s - and that is not acceptable. My bill, A.4582, seeks to change the law to include any type of synthetic fentanyl and allow prosecutors to go after the drug dealers. By adding all synthetic forms, we can amend an antiquated law and ensure that District Attorneys can go after the drug dealers and keep them off our streets.

In addition, I want District Attorneys to be able to bring stronger charges against drug dealers, which is why I am the prime co-sponsor of A.8384, also known as “Chelsey’s Law.” This would allow DAs to charge anyone who knows, or has reasonable grounds to know, that a drug could cause the death of another person. In the event that someone dies from an overdose, this bill will allow for drug dealers to be charged with manslaughter, or aggravated manslaughter, which could result in up to 25 years in prison. This bill would hold drug dealers accountable for the true cost of their activities - something I think we all agree on.

We need to have legislation that has teeth and truly allows the police and District Attorneys to have the ability to go after the bad guys. We cannot allow the drug dealers to go unpunished. These bills will fill in the gaps of old and outdated laws, and will fight back against those who wish to harm our communities. We must meet the needs of today and amend the drug laws.

It is very easy for people to say that there is a fentanyl or drug problem in our State. It’s a whole other thing to work hand-in-hand with the Suffolk, Nassau and Queens County District Attorneys, write a piece of legislation, and produce a way to fix the problem. This is the time for action, and I hope you will all work with me as I fight to amend these antiquated laws. As the 2024 Legislative Session has just begun, I look forward to working on these bills and so many others. As always, do not hesitate to contact my office by phone at 718-945-9550 or by email at amatos@nyassembly.gov. It is a pleasure to serve you and I look forward to representing you for many more years to come.