The McHenry County state’s attorney, sheriff and coroner are denouncing a bill that has been sent to the Illinois Senate that would decriminalize fentanyl, cocaine and heroin as overdose deaths continue at an “alarming rate.”
House Bill 3447 was passed in 2021 by the Illinois House and has since been sent to the Illinois Senate for consideration.
The bill makes possession of less than three grams of fentanyl, cocaine or heroin a Class A misdemeanor.
Authorities say that 0.002 grams of fentanyl and 0.015 grams of heroin, respectively, are enough to cause a fatal overdose.
McHenry County Coroner Dr. Michael Rein and McHenry County State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally spoke last Thursday with the McHenry County Board’s Law and Justice Committee to advocate for a resolution opposing further consideration of HB 3447.
“As coroner, I see that drugs like fentanyl, heroin, and cocaine continue to cause the vast majority of overdose deaths to McHenry County residents at alarming rates,” Rein said.
Rein said three grams of fentanyl is enough to kill more than 1,500 people.
“It’s shocking that any representative in Springfield believes possession of substances capable of causing such carnage and death should be reduced to a minor criminal offense,” Rein said.
Kenneally, Rein and McHenry County Sheriff Bill Prim issued a joint statement Tuesday denouncing HB 3447.
Kenneally said the super-majorities in the House and Senate are “attempting to quietly remake the criminal justice system in extreme ways that jeopardize public safety.”
HB 3447 would also allow people to petition the court to expunge certain charges and convictions.
“Decriminalizing marijuana was the first step toward legalization, and that appears to be the track Springfield is now on with fentanyl, cocaine, heroin, PCP, LSD, methamphetamines and ecstasy,” Kenneally said.
“It is up to local officials, victim-groups, law enforcement, and anyone else who expects the criminal justice system to respond vigorously to deadly criminal behavior to make their voices heard. To drag these ‘reforms,’ passed discretely in Springfield and so lacking in commonsense, into the light,” he added.