Sentencing Panel Acts on Synthetic Drugs, Fentanyl

The U.S. Sentencing Commission issued proposed guidelines for federal judges for sentencing in cases involving synthetic drugs and fentanyl. The panel said the fentanyl proposal amounts to a 50 percent increase in recommended sentences.

The United States Sentencing Commission has issued proposed guidelines for judges for sentencing in synthetic drug cases. The proposal reflects “a collaborative, detailed, and data-driven approach to federal sentencing policy,” the panel said. The commission said its proposal resulted from a multi-year study of synthetic drugs, which have not been included in federal sentencing guidelines, prompting courts to hold “expensive and resource-intensive hearings.”

The panel expressed the hope that its actions would “simplify and promote uniformity” in sentencing drug offenders. The commission also adopted a new guideline definition of the term “fentanyl analogue.” The panel said that the change “raises the guideline penalties for fentanyl analogues to a level more consistent with the current statutory penalty structure.” Commissioners voted for a four-level sentencing enhancement for knowingly misrepresenting or knowingly marketing fentanyl or fentanyl analogues as another substance, which it said equates to an approximate 50 percent increase in the recommended sentence.