Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, R-Pa., on Newsmax on Wednesday called for "stricter penalties" and "longer jail sentences" for those who sell or distribute illegal drugs, particularly fentanyl.
"It's a multipronged approach that we have to take in response to the opioid epidemic," Reschenthaler told "National Report." "And I know this from having been a district judge, but I can tell you fentanyl is the leading cause of death for individuals between 18 and 46 down the United States.
"Pennsylvania leads in fentanyl deaths; we're third in fentanyl deaths even though we're just the fifth-largest state in population, so it is an issue in Pennsylvania and something that Pennsylvanians have on their minds.
"Now I can tell you that what we need to do with fentanyl and illicit drugs: We have to secure the southern border," he continued. "This is a national security issue; it's a public health and safety issue as well. So that's the first step also, we need to make sure we hold China accountable because a lot of the fentanyl is coming from China that is killing individuals in main street America."
"As far as the crime and the criminal aspect of this, we need to focus on the users and we need to focus on those that are distributing the drugs," he added. "If you're a dealer, if you’re a distributor, there should be stricter penalties for you, longer jail sentences. If you're a user, we need to make sure … that we get these individuals in rehabilitation centers.
"It's much cheaper for taxpayers to get people help to break addiction than it is to just jail them.
"We should bifurcate between the user and the drug dealer and have very different trajectories in the criminal justice system for them," Reschenthaler concluded.
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