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Massachusetts House approves bill to clamp down on fentanyl

October 7, 2015

BOSTON (AP) — The Massachusetts House has approved a bill designed to crack down on a powerful narcotic often added to heroin.

Lawmakers passed the legislation targeting fentanyl Wednesday as part of an effort to fight the state’s opioid abuse epidemic.

The bill would create the new crime of trafficking in fentanyl for amounts greater than 10 grams. Under existing law, drug traffickers can only be charged with manufacturing, dispensing, or possessing fentanyl — a drug more potent than morphine or heroin.

Those convicted of the crime would face a punishment of up to 20 years in state prison.

Law enforcement officials say fentanyl is often added to heroin and contributes to the state’s overdose deaths.

Health officials say an estimated 1,256 people died from opioid-related overdoses in 2014.

The bill now heads to the Senate.

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