FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – With overdoses from fentanyl at an all-time high and many states cracking down on fentanyl dealers, a Fresno-area assemblymember warns that California is going in the opposite direction.
In a press conference on Thursday, mothers who have lost children to fentanyl poisoning joined Assemblyman Jim Patterson along with law enforcement and education leaders to beg the Assembly Public Safety Committee to protect victims instead of drug dealers.
“What we have is a top-down dictatorial, group of individuals, who have predetermined that they will not hear another fentanyl bill in public safety if it increases time in prison,” said Assemblyman Patterson.
Assemblyman Patterson introduced a bill to close a dangerous loophole that lets fentanyl dealers off with minimal punishment based on the weight of the drugs.
The current law used to determine sentencing for dealers is written based on the weight of drugs seized, but officials say a harsher sentence can be given if a person has 1 kilogram or more of an illicit drug.
“It means that those who are profiting by the addiction and ignoring the death of our kids, have essentially been given the green light – go ahead, do it, you have a couple thousand pills the most we can have you on is a misdemeanor,” Assemblyman Patterson emphasized.
This law does not take into account the fact that as little as two milligrams of fentanyl, the same weight as about five grains of salt, is enough to kill someone, according to officials.
We need to educate voters and demand that people on the public safety committee have the responsibility and the accountability to work for the public, the people and residents who live and reside in California and it has to be stopped and we have to shed light on this because it is going to continue to ruin our state and kill our children.Lisa Smittcamp, Fresno County District Attorney
The new bill proposed by Assemblyman Patterson would have updated the penalty structure for the fentanyl drug market by restructuring the penalty for dealers caught with 28.35 grams or more. Patterson says this bill specifically targets dealers, not addicts.
Assemblyman Patterson says his hope with this new bill is to put the dealers away as they are the ones at the heart of the epidemic.
“I’m not going to quit, I’m not going to get tired, I’m not going to be silent, because I represent an area under a real threat,” said Assemblyman Patterson.