Arizona has tougher sentences for fentanyl dealers. This advocate says it won't stop overdoses

By Lauren Gilger
Published: Wednesday, April 17, 2024 - 12:15pm

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Earlier this month, Gov. Katie Hobbs signed a bill aimed at tougher prison time for dealers and traffickers of fentanyl. In the midst of what advocates call an overdose crisis, the bipartisan HB2245 sets a minimum sentence of five years and a maximum of 15 for people who sell at least 200 grams of fentanyl — that’s about 2,000 pills.

At a press conference flanked by a bipartisan group of lawmakers and stakeholders, the governor said enhancing sentencing is just one part of a more holistic approach.

“My message to all parents, friends and family members who have gone through this is that we hear you and today is just the first step of combatting this crisis together,” she said.

She also called for more funding for law enforcement and resources for treating drug addiction. And that’s where our next guest comes in.

Haley Coles is executive director of Sonoran Prevention Works, which works in harm reduction for drug users in Arizona. She told The Show she doesn’t think this kind of approach to combating drug use won’t work — but there’s a lot that would.

Haley Coles
Tory Howell
Haley Coles

The Show also reached out to the Governor’s Office for comment on this interview. They sent us a statement that says “an issue this complicated requires a holistic approach” … and that “enhancing sentencing is just one piece of the puzzle.”

That’s why, her office told us, Gov. Hobbs proposed funding for the SAFE Initiative in this year’s budget, which they say will “help Arizonans get treatment, and law enforcement get the resources they need to enforce the law.”

Full statement: 

Enhancing sentencing is just one piece of the puzzle. An issue this complex requires a holistic approach. That’s why Governor Hobbs proposed funding for the SAFE Initiative in this year’s budget, which will help Arizonans get treatment, and law enforcement get the resources they need to enforce the law.

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