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Making fentanyl child exposure a crime in New Mexico

By John Cardinale

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    ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico (KOAT) — Only 10 days are left in this year’s legislative session and some lawmakers at the Roundhouse are focusing on passing a bill targeting fentanyl use around kids.

House Bill 106 aims to create penalties for parents who expose their children to fentanyl.

“We have a fentanyl epidemic. It is horrific what is going on in the state,” Republican New Mexico State Rep. Stefani Lord said.

That’s why Lord and Republican New Mexico state Sen. Crystal Diamond have introduced the bill to change state law.

“It’s a step towards acknowledging that exposure to fentanyl is grounds for child abuse. As the laws are today, it’s not illegal for parents to use and abuse fentanyl around their children,” Diamond said.

According to Diamond and Lord, current laws for child abuse address methamphetamine and other drug use, but not fentanyl.

In New Mexico, child abuse is a third-degree felony the first time it is committed. If the abuse results in death or serious injury, it’s a first-degree offense.

“It’s alarming that our law enforcement is recognizing just how much fentanyl exposure is out there,” Diamond said.

In a letter addressed to legislators, a detective working in the Albuquerque Police Department’s crimes against children unit claims they are averaging 50-60 reports monthly detailing fentanyl use in the home of a child.

In addition, in 2023, APD detectives handled 27 cases in which a child had overdosed, four resulting in death.

Lord said those stats alone are alarming.

“I think those numbers are much higher. We’re hearing from one department. I’m hearing from friends in multiple different departments, and they’re all telling me, this is a huge issue,” Lord said.

The bill also asks for $ 500,000 to go to the Department of Public Safety to expand investigations of child abuse involving fentanyl.

HB 106 is currently waiting to be heard in the House Appropriations and Finance Committee.

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