NC Senate Approves Legislation Confronting Fentanyl, Overdose Epidemic

Senator Berger Press Shop
2 min readMar 16, 2023

More than 77% of overdose deaths in North Carolina involved fentanyl

Bill has support from sheriffs, district attorneys, families of those impacted

Raleigh, N.C. — On March 14, the North Carolina Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 189, “Fentanyl Drug Offenses and Related Changes.” The bill was filed in response to the growing number of tragedies being caused by the overdose epidemic in North Carolina.

There were over 4,000 drug overdose deaths in North Carolina in 2021, the highest number of overdose deaths in a single year. According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, more than 77% of those deaths likely involved fentanyl.

“Fentanyl poses a real harm to our communities. This bill looks at the root causes that lead to fentanyl deaths, and adjusts our laws to account for how much more potent and dangerous the drug is,” bill sponsor Sen. Tom McInnis (R-Moore) said.

Senate Bill 189 covers four areas:

· Significantly increases the fines for trafficking heroin, fentanyl, or carfentanil. Fines for trafficking would range from $500,000 to $1,000,000 if convicted; the previous baseline fine was $50,000.

· Expands the current Death by Distribution law by creating new offenses related to deaths caused by the distribution of fentanyl and other controlled substances.

· Modifies the “Good Samaritan Immunity Law” to provide limited criminal immunity to someone who possesses less than one gram of any controlled substance — including fentanyl — if the person is seeking medical assistance for an overdose.

· Creates a new Task Force on Enforcement of Fentanyl and Heroin Drug Violations to study and make recommendations to lawmakers on best practices to combat fentanyl and the overdose epidemic.

“Almost everyone knows a family member, friend, or neighbor who has been impacted by opioids. Senate Bill 189 needs to pass so we can effectively fight back against this epidemic,” bill sponsor Sen. Danny Earl Britt, Jr. (R-Robeson) said.

“Fentanyl and other opioids are plaguing our state in the worst possible way. Our legislation will help law enforcement and district attorneys stop drug dealers, convict offenders, and save lives,” bill sponsor Sen. Michael Lazzara (R-Onslow) said.

Bill sponsors held a press conference for the legislation last week where families who have lost loved ones, sheriffs, and districts attorneys all spoke in favor of the measure. Senate Bill 189 now heads to the N.C. House of Representatives for consideration.

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Senator Berger Press Shop

Press releases from N.C. Senate Republicans and Senate Leader Phil Berger