State Representative Mary Littleton’s Measure Cracking Down On Drug Dealers Passes In House

April 25, 2018

Bill will give law enforcement more tools to prosecute illegal drug crimes.

(NASHVILLE) — This week, Republican lawmakers unanimously supported passage of a measure sponsored by State Representative Mary Littleton (R–Dickson) designed to give law enforcement additional tools to fight Tennessee’s ongoing war on drugs.

House Bill 2190, which passed by a 96-0 vote Tuesday afternoon, creates a second-degree murder penalty for those who distribute an illegal substance that leads to the death of an individual. While current law allows this prosecution to take place for Schedule I drugs like heroin and LSD, House Bill 2190 expands this penalty to apply to all drug Schedules. This means the illegal distribution of other drugs like cocaine, and methamphetamine that leads to death can also be prosecuted for 2nd-degree murder.

Additionally, the bill adds analogs of fentanyl and carfentanil to this same list — a request made specifically by law enforcement officers across the state. Because drug dealers are constantly working to craft new combinations of the most potent drugs in an attempt to get around currently banned substance lists, adding analogs — the individual ingredients that make up a drug — to this list means that law enforcement can better stay on top of new drug combinations being created.

Fentanyl is reportedly 100 times more potent than morphine, and carfentanil is 10,000 times more potent. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the death rate of synthetic opioids —including fentanyl — increased 100 percent between 2015-2016.

Finally, House Bill 2190 closes legal loopholes so that members of the local law enforcement can hold manufacturers and suppliers accountable when more than one illegal substance has resulted in a person’s death. Current law prohibits prosecution for 2nd-degree murder in these instances. Approximately 66 percent of drug-related deaths last year were the result of multiple illegal substances uncovered during toxicology testing.

House Bill 2190 is the latest in a series of initiatives led by Representative Littleton and Republican lawmakers in order to address Tennessee’s drug crisis that has led to so many tragic outcomes in communities across the state.

“It is very disheartening that current law inhibits our local law enforcement community from holding drug dealers fully accountable for their actions, especially when the substances they have manufactured and distributed result in a death,” said Representative Littleton. “I am pleased that House Bill 2190 has received tremendous support from my House colleagues, and I know it will help us begin to break the cycle of addiction here in Tennessee.”

For more information about House Bill 2190, please click here.

Mary Littleton is a member of the House State Government Committee and Subcommittee, as well as the House Criminal Justice Committee. Littleton lives in Dickson and represents House District 78, which includes Cheatham and part of Dickson Counties. She can be reached by email at Rep.Mary.Littleton@capitol.tn.gov or by calling (615) 741-7477.