AUSTIN, Texas – A new Texas law will increase criminal penalties for those who distribute fentanyl, including allowing prosecutors to pursue murder charges in cases involving fentanyl-related deaths. Governor Greg Abbott signed four bills into law Wednesday related to fentanyl. One of those bills, House Bill 6, will allow prosecutors to seek a murder charge for a person who manufactures or delivers fentanyl when someone dies from the deadly drug. It will also add “Fentanyl Poisoning” or “Fentanyl Toxicity” on a death certificate if a toxicology report finds a deadly amount. The legislation will go into effect September 1st.
Other legislation the governor signed, House Bill 3908, will require every Texas school district to educate 6th through 12th grade students about preventing fentanyl abuse and making them aware of its deadly consequences. Emily’s Hope is currently developing a prevention education curriculum for students K-12.
In addition to middle and high school students, those at Texas colleges and universities will also have more resources to prevent overdoses. Abbott signed Senate Bill 867 which allows for the distribution of NARCAN to Texas colleges and universities.
The final new law will designate October as fentanyl poisoning awareness month.
“These four laws will forever change Texas through new protections that will help save lives. In 2022, more than 2,000 people died from fentanyl in Texas–or more than five a day. It is the number one killer of Americans ages 18-45,” Governor Abbott said.
Dozens of families who have lost loved ones to fentanyl joined Abbott at the signing, along with fentanyl awareness advocates, including student Jenna Mitchell.
“Fentanyl is a clandestine killer, and younger Texans, like me, are especially vulnerable. Many students have never even heard about fentanyl or its deadly effects. There is a critical need to increase awareness and expand education,” Mitchell said.