Assemblymember Marie Waldron
On Tuesday, May 9, we recognized National Fentanyl Awareness Day.
Each month, fentanyl claims the lives of 500 Californians and nationally, fentanyl overdose deaths have more than tripled over the past few years.
I serve on the state’s first Select Committee on Fentanyl, Opioid Addiction, and Overdose Prevention. I intend to bring attention to the fentanyl trafficked through the Southern Border, mostly through our district, and the thousands of lives lost in San Diego County, many from accidental overdoses. We are looking forward to our first hearing this month.
We need to focus on providing resources and support to those struggling with addiction. This means expanding access to effective treatment programs, including investing in mental health services, and increasing facilities, beds, and provider workforce training and licensing.
At the same time, we should crack down on the illegal distribution of fentanyl by working with law enforcement to target the sources of illicit fentanyl and increasing penalties for those caught trafficking and selling it.
Finally, we must raise awareness about this poison in our communities. Victims are not just chronic users and addicts. They are children, parents, neighbors, who were poisoned with a counterfeit pill, never even intending to take fentanyl.
It’s often used in counterfeit prescription drugs, but it is up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. It is crucial that we continue to share the stories of these tragedies so people are aware not just of fentanyl’s lethal potency, but how easy it is to accidentally ingest it.
Fentanyl is involved in more deaths of Americans under 50 than any other cause, more than cancer, heart disease, accidents and suicide. If left unchecked, the fentanyl crisis will continue to claim the lives of mothers, fathers, and children in our state.
I will continue to prioritize this crisis and urge my colleagues to take meaningful action.