As states across the country try to stem the ongoing opioid crisis, leaders in Kentucky want new powers for prosecutors -- and they're leaning on Congress to make that happen, according to a news release from the Kentucky Office of the Attorney General.
Attorney General Andy Beshear is working with a bipartisan group of 52 state and territory attorneys general to pass a law that would close a legal loophole that allows those who traffic the hyper-dangerous opioid fentanyl to stay on step ahead of law enforcement, the release said.
The Stopping Overdoses of Fentanyl Analogues (SOFA) Act would allow federal drug enforcement officers to proactively identify new variations of fentanyl.
“In Kentucky and nationwide, overdose deaths related to fentanyl now surpass deaths related to heroin, and this legislation must be passed for law enforcement to effectively combat those driving the illicit production and distribution of deadly fentanyl variants,” Beshear said in the release. “Closing this loophole will make it easier to prosecute crimes involving synthetic opioids and will save lives.”
The push fits with the growing effort to hold people caught with those drugs accountable.
Fatal overdoses in Kentucky totaled 1,565 in 2017, which was an 11.5 percent increase over the previous year, according to a July report released by the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, the release said. Fentanyl was a factor in approximately 763 deaths and 52 percent of the toxicology cases.