Bos, Syed disagree on bill hiking penalties for fentanyl crimes

While some state lawmakers are backing legislation that would make possession of small amounts of fentanyl a misdemeanor, state Rep. Chris Bos is co-sponsoring a bill that instead would stiffen penalties for crimes involving the powerful synthetic opioid.

But his opponent in the race for the 51st state House District seat says increasing punishment is not the solution to the fentanyl crisis.

Bos, a Republican from Lake Zurich, faces Democrat Nabeela Syed of Inverness in the Nov. 8 election. He said House Bill 5808, which would increase penalties for those possessing, manufacturing or distributing fentanyl and create a new offense called fentanyl trafficking, recognizes that the drug is more powerful and more dangerous than other controlled substances.

"It is vital that we do something now to address this fentanyl crisis that is facing our country and our states," Bos said. "This (bill) primarily goes after those that are manufacturing, those that are distributing, those are making the fentanyl look like pieces of candy."

Syed said she agrees that the state needs to address the fentanyl epidemic, but she could not support the bill as it's written.

"I think the first thing we need to do is address drug use and addiction, making sure that folks have more access to treatment and educational services," she said. "This bill is not doing that."

In addition to raising penalties for fentanyl crimes, the bill also calls for lengthy prison terms for crimes involving carfentanil, a synthetic opioid more potent than fentanyl.

The 51st District includes parts of Palatine, Inverness, Hoffman Estates, Rolling Meadows, Barrington, Kildeer, Deer Park, Long Grove, Vernon Hills, Lake Zurich and Hawthorn Woods.

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