The life of convicted killer Scott Raymond Dozier currently lies in the hands of a very controversial drug.
This week, the state of Nevada plans to be the first US state to carry out an execution using fentanyl, the notorious recreationally-used drug that’s become synonymous with the country’s opioid epidemic.
A hearing will take place on Wednesday, July 11, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports. If it gets the go-ahead, Dozier will be dead by 8:30pm later that day.
Fentanyl is a potent and highly-addictive opioid narcotic that is typically used to treat severe chronic pain. Much like heroin and other opioids, fentanyl works by binding to the body's opioid receptors, specialized cells found in the brain, spinal cord, and digestive tract that control pain and emotion. In turn, this triggers the release of endorphins, the naturally occurring “feel good” chemicals that we normally produce after we eat, rest, or do something pleasurable. It also suppresses the brain activity that controls breathing.
In high enough quantities – just a quarter of a milligram – it will depress the respiratory system and slow down the rate of breathing to the extent that the body becomes starved of oxygen.
Nevada wants to use fentanyl in Dozier’s execution because of the national shortage of lethal injection drugs. He will first be injected with midazolam, followed by fentanyl, then a muscle paralyzing drug.
However, the use of this untested technique is causing a big stir.