The new law makes fentanyl a schedule 1 drug — which means prosecutors can charge people who make and distribute it.
One of the bill’s authors, Republican Representative Joel Kleefisch says the bill will be a model for the rest of the country.
“This is going to change opioid distribution in the state of Wisconsin, in our nation and around the world,” Kleefisch says. “Right now, fentanyl is killing more people than heroin. That’s because the people creating and distributing it are sitting outside the reach of the law.”
Governor Scott Walker signed the bill into law late last week.
The law makes all variants of fentanyl illegal. Previously, people could change fentanyl slightly and make it legal — but this legislation changes that.
The New York Times reports that nationwide, more than 20 thousand people died from a fentanyl-related overdose last year. That’s more than double from 2015 and surpassed the number of deadly heroin overdoses.
Here in Wisconsin, the dangerous drug is also taking lives. In Milwaukee County alone, 97 people died from fentanyl overdoses in 2016, according to the Cato Institute.
Kleefisch describes the dangers of fentanyl.
“This is going to give us the upper hand in controlling fentynal which is the opioid that is threatening the destruction of our families and future users of heroin,” Kleefisch says.
Kleefisch says Senator Ron Johnson is watching the statehouse to model federal legislation after Wisconsin’s new law.