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Is It Illegal to Have Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a government-regulated pain reliever. Although it has legitimate medical use, it can only be obtained by people to whom it is prescribed.

Possession of fentanyl becomes illegal when one has an illicit form of the substance or doesn’t have a prescription. Offenses involving fentanyl can be misdemeanors or felonies and may involve state or federal charges. Because of attention to the danger of overdose, the government has been cracking down on fentanyl-related charges.

Branstad & Olson handles complex drug crime charges. If you face accusations in Des Moines or the surrounding areas, contact us at (515) 329-3100.

What Is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a manufactured opioid used to treat chronic or severe pain. It interacts with opioid receptors to relieve pain and cause relaxation.

When a medical professional prescribes fentanyl, the patient must be closely monitored because the substance has a high potential for abuse. It can lead to severe physical or psychological dependence. As such, it is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance.

Two kinds of fentanyl are found on the illegal drug market. The type manufactured according to U.S. government regulations often comes in the form of patches or lozenges.

The type of fentanyl illegally manufactured by unlicensed individuals typically is in powder form that is inhaled or injected. Illicit fentanyl is often mixed with other drugs, like heroin, methamphetamine, or cocaine, to increase potency. In some cases, it is manufactured to look like other prescription medications, such as oxycodone.

Fentanyl-laced drugs are increasingly under scrutiny, as they often contain lethal dosages.

What Are Iowa’s Laws Concerning Fentanyl?

Iowa has several laws concerning the manufacture and possession of fentanyl, as well as the possession of paraphernalia used to consume the substance.

One must have proper authority to manufacture or deliver fentanyl. Without authority, one may be charged with a class “C” felony. Potential conviction penalties include up to 10 years of imprisonment and/or a fine between $1,000 and $50,000.

Possessing fentanyl without a valid prescription is a serious misdemeanor, carrying a jail term of up to 1 year and/or a fine between $430 and $2,560.

If you possess fentanyl paraphernalia, you could be charged with a simple misdemeanor.

Under Iowa Code § 124.414, drug paraphernalia includes any object used to:

  • Make;
  • Inject, ingest, inhale, or otherwise consume;
  • Test the strength, effectiveness, or purity; or
  • Enhance the effect of

a controlled substance.

In Iowa, simple misdemeanor penalties include confinement for up to 30 days and/or a fine between $105 and $855.

Federal penalties have many factors affecting the analysis of penalty.

Government Officials’ Growing Concern Over Unlawful Fentanyl Activity

In July of 2022, Governor Kim Reynolds, along with health and safety officials, and Attorney General Tom Miller made separate statements about illegal conduct involving fentanyl. Governor Reynolds addressed the dangers of substances laced with illicit fentanyl and how Iowa has seen an increase in opioid-related overdoses and deaths.

Attorney Miller proposed a bill to legalize fentanyl testing strips, which are currently prohibited as drug paraphernalia. He stated that people might not be aware that a substance they have is laced with fentanyl or they might know it contains the substance but not the dosage, which could lead to overdoses. Miller argues that by legalizing the test strips, people will be able to know whether fentanyl is in a substance before they take it.

The growing focus on illegally distributed and illicit fentanyl suggests stricter measures may be on the horizon.

Schedule a Consultation with Branstad & Olson

If you are accused of unlawfully manufacturing, distributing, or possessing a controlled substance like fentanyl, look for your best legal representation by interviewing an attorney and asking about: your next steps, the possible outcomes, and the attorney’s experience.

Although fentanyl charges are serious and can lead to severe punishments, an attorney can review your case to determine possible defenses and the best steps for you.

To speak with a member of our Des Moines team, please contact us at (515) 329-3100 today.