Feb 2, 2023 - News

Spike in synthetic narcotic deaths driving tougher Iowa drug laws

Data: Iowa Health and Human Services; Chart: Axios Visuals

Iowa registered at least 178 synthetic narcotic deaths in 2022, according to provisional data from the state's Health and Human Services department.

  • That's down by as much as 35 from a 2021 peak but still at least 125% higher than five years ago.

Driving the news: Iowa lawmakers last week advanced legislation to increase penalties for illegal drug distribution that leads to death.

  • Those convicted would face up to 25 years in prison under versions of the bill supported by Attorney General Brenna Bird.

What we're watching: More lives could be saved by decriminalizing fentanyl test strips, some advocates for people with addictions contend.

  • They detect synthetic opioids but are currently classified as illegal drug paraphernalia.

Of note: Current versions of bills advocated by Bird do not include changes to how Iowa classifies the strips.

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