Senator Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield) announced her bills Senate Bill 237 and 325, to help stop the fentanyl crisis that is killing Californians at an alarming rate, were both voted down by Democrats in the Senate Public Safety Committee. These two important measures would have increased jail time for the selling or possessing of fentanyl, as well as add additional penalties for the buying or selling of “rainbow” fentanyl, a colorful pill that is marketed towards children.
Fentanyl is a Schedule II narcotic that is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. Drug cartels and sellers use fentanyl to increase the potency of heroin and enhance user addiction, often with deadly results. In 2021, there were 5,722 fentanyl-related deaths in California, the second-highest death rate of any state. Recently, brightly colored fentanyl, also known as “rainbow” fentanyl, has been found in many different forms, including pills, powders and candy. With its vibrant colors and candy-like shapes, it has become a new method for dealers to sell this highly addictive and fatal poison to children and young people.
“The fentanyl crisis is one of leading causes of death for young adults in the United States,” said Senator Grove. “While I believe it is important to train teachers and parents on how to use Narcan to save overdosing children, it is even more important that we stop the drug from entering schools in the first place. It’s time to hold the dealers and traffickers who are targeting and poising our children accountable.”
“I am honored to be the sponsor of Senator Grove’s legislative measures, SB 325 and SB 237. As a sponsor, we are continuing in our efforts to do all that we can to ensure our community is safe from this dangerous drug. Fentanyl has shown time and time again that it discriminates against no one and has an increased capacity to cause death or serious harm unlike anything we have ever seen before. We are committed to doing our part to hold those responsible for dealing this poison, it is our hope that the legislators will now do theirs,” said Fresno County District Attorney, Lisa Smittcamp.
SB 237 would have increased penalties for possession and/or purchase of fentanyl by two years (to 4, 5, or 6 years), transport, sale, and distribution by four years (to 7, 8, or 9 years), and trafficking by four years (to 7, 10, or 13 years). In addition, Senator SB 325 would have add penalties of 3, 4, or 5 years of additional punishment for the buying, selling, and transporting of “rainbow” fentanyl.
“Rainbow Fentanyl is obviously designed and manufactured to entice our young people into the world of addiction, only so the drug dealers, manufacturers and traffickers can profit off the backs of our children. They do not care how many people they kill or how many lives they ruin. We must be able to impose stiffer penalties,” said Pamela Smith, a Central Valley mom who lost her son Jackson Smith when he overdosed from a pill laced with Fentanyl.
"Fentanyl is a game changer. Every single day in CA we are losing too many people to this unprecedented drug crisis, people like my beloved son Zach. Zach was on an incredible path with a bright future ahead of him when one deceptive counterfeit pill made of fentanyl ended his life at 17 years old. Kids are dying from youthful drug experimentation or self-medication. The consequences of selling deadly drugs must be commensurate with the devastation that these drugs are causing, and that is why I support SB 237 and the enhanced sentencing guidelines for fentanyl," said Laura Didier, a parent who lost her son and now has turned to educate others about the dangers of fentanyl poisoning.
SB 237 and SB 325 would have been the first step in the right direction to end the fentanyl crisis. By attaching a longer sentence, offenders would have spent more time in jail and less time distributing this lethal poison to our children.