Senate Bill 1, regarding Fentanyl Penalties, Is Finally Law!

Prosecutor Lutz attending Governor's signing of Senate Bill 1

The Ohio Department of Health concluded that fentanyl is the primary reason for Ohio's inordinate number of overdose deaths. So I'm pleased to report that after fighting for a fix for over three years, Ohio law enforcement, prosecutors and judges will soon have an enhanced weapon to fight those dealing this death. Yesterday, I attended Governor Kasich's signing of Senate Bill 1 (orginally Senate Bill 237), which will become effective in 90 days. For some back history on this bill, on April 14, 2015, I sent a letter to Ohio Senator Frank LaRose with a proposed draft of an amendment to the Ohio Revised Code that would allow law enforcement, prosecutors and judges to adequately address the seriousness of trafficking and possession of fentanyl. The impetus of this proposal was a case that Medway Drug Enforcement Agency investigated and my office prosecuted. Due to the confines of the statutory language at that time, although the defendants were convicted, we were prevented from adequately holding accountable a group of Detroit drug dealers who were dealing this poison called fentanyl right here in Wooster. When originally passed, the existing statute regarding fentanyl only envisioned fentanyl in medicinal form and, therefore, the statutory language would not allow for sufficient charging or sentencing when large amounts of non-medicinal, contraband fentanyl or fentanyl-related compounds were being trafficked and possessed. And so, in 2015, my office proposed a legislative fix, and in the ensuing years since sending the proposed amendment to Senator LaRose, I testifed in Columbus before various Senate and House committees and met with Ohio legislators on numerous occasions to promote the dire need for this bill. Although too long in coming, it is satisfying that all the efforts put forth towards passage of this overdue legislative fix will finally be rewarded beginning November 1, 2018, which is the statute's effective date.