Virginia proposes charging fentanyl traffickers with first-degree murder

If the initiative goes forward, offenders would face prison sentences of 20 years.

The Virginia General Assembly will consider a bill to charge drug dealers who distribute fentanyl with first-degree murder by poisoning. The initiative is a response to the increase in deaths from this cause in the state - and throughout the country - in recent years.

The author of the rule, Republican Delegate Tim Anderson, noted to The Center Square that "It's time to call drug dealers who sell fentanyl to unknowing buyers what they are - cold-blooded killers - and punish them accordingly." Under Virginia law, first-degree murder is punishable by 20 years in prison.

3 out of 4 overdoses due to fentanyl

"HB1455 is a simple bill. If you are a drug dealer and knowingly sell a drug laced with fentanyl to someone who does not know fentanyl is in it – that is attempted first degree murder by poison. If they die, it is first-degree murder by poisoning," Anderson explained.

In Virginia, three out of four drug overdose deaths involved fentanyl in 2020. By 2022, according to the DEA, up to 66% of overdoses across the US were related to this substance.