According to the CDC, over 100,000 people died from drug overdoses in the United States in the 12 months ending in April, 2021. That’s a new record, exceeding the previous record of 93,331 in 2020. That is not acceptable. Much of this increase is driven by fentanyl, a drug similar to morphine, but 50 to 100 times more potent.
Treating drug-addicted persons can break the cycle of dependency for many, and can significantly reduce overall crime rates and recidivism. That’s why I introduced Assembly Bill 653, which recently became law, to support Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) programs for persons incarcerated in county jails and under community supervision.
While effective, treatment is just one tool. Those trafficking in poisons like fentanyl need to face severe legal consequences. Over the past several years, legislation has been repeatedly introduced in both the Assembly and Senate to crack down on drug trafficking. The bills would have substantially increased penalties, including imprisonment in county jails for up to 13 years. Other legislation would have allowed a manufacturer or distributor of controlled substances, including fentanyl, to be charged with voluntary manslaughter or murder, if trafficking resulted in death.
One of my bills, AB 3105, made trafficking a detectable amount of fentanyl subject to life imprisonment without possibility of parole (depending on circumstances) if a death or great bodily injury resulted from use of the drug. But AB 1305, like most recent legislation to increase penalties for drug trafficking, failed in the Public Safety Committee.
While Sacramento legislators seem to agree that those addicted to fentanyl and other substances should receive treatment, the majority can’t bring themselves to increase penalties for the drug dealers responsible for so much death and devastation.
That must change.
For more information and resources on the fentanyl crisis, please visit: https://www.dea.gov/resources/facts-about-fentanyl