The number of fentanyl-related deaths in California has skyrocketed over the past six years. California Assemblywoman, Cottie Petrie-Norris describes, “The reality is that dealers don’t need to lurk in dark street corners or remote parking lots,” Petrie-Norris said:
On Drug Dealers:
“Now they are connecting with our kids on platforms like Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp.”
For comparison, around 230 fentanyl deaths were reported in 2016. Now that number has jumped to nearly 5,800 in 2021 — marking an increase of over 2,000 percent.
That alarming number has local leaders and victims’ families speaking out and demanding more legislation, including extra safeguards on social media and stricter penalties for fentanyl dealers.
“As a mom, this scares the hell out of me,” said the California assemblywoman. “As a legislator, I am determined to act.”
Petrie-Norris is pushing for stiffer penalties for fentanyl dealers caught selling the drug on social media. She recently introduced two bills to address the staggering issue.
AB-1027 would help law enforcement investigate fentanyl deaths linked to social media platforms and would require those companies to retain information about suspected dealers on their sites that would be accessible by law enforcement.
AB-955 would raise the punishment for selling fentanyl from a two-to-four-year jail sentence to a three-to-nine-year sentence. But Petrie-Norris says some legislators may not be on board as her proposals have been stalled in a public safety committee.
“I’m disappointed by the outcome of those hearings,” she said.
“These two bills that the assemblywoman is bringing forward are critical because we know that social media is the place where people are being targeted,” said Katrina Foley, the Orange County, California Supervisor.
Many heads of law enforcement along with surviving family members of the epidemic and the O.C. District Attorney are calling upon state lawmakers to pass tougher laws to combat the fentanyl crisis.
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