Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer
Chair, Assembly Committee on Public Safety
1020 N Street, Room 111
Sacramento, CA 95812-4036
Re: Assembly Bill 18 – SUPPORT
Dear Chairman Jones-Sawyer and Assembly Public Safety Committee members,
I am writing in support of Assembly Bill 18 and to emphasize the human element behind these policies, while reaffirming the legal precedent.
Assembly Bill 18 would require a person who is convicted of, or who pleads guilty or no contest to the sales of narcotics and opiates to receive a written advisory of the danger of manufacturing or distribution of controlled substances and that if a person dies as a result of that action, the manufacturer or distributor can be charged with voluntary manslaughter or murder. This law does not increase penalties for the current crime, but can be utilized as a tool to educate and prevent future tragedies.
Quite simply, fentanyl has changed the landscape. The lethality of this drug robs the user of opportunities to seek treatment and prevents families and loved ones from intervention to stop the use. A frighteningly minute amount of fentanyl can and will kill. Fentanyl is now the number one killer for people ages 18-45, surpassing car accidents and suicides. As the landscape changes, so must our level of approach.
This legal concept is not new. A fentanyl advisement mirrors an advisement that is given to drivers convicted of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. An advisement creates a legal warning to ensure the defendant is aware of the extreme danger their actions pose to others. It also educates the defendant in court that if they are involved in the same illegal activity in the future and that activity leads to a death, they can be held liable for that death – and in aggravated cases, the filing of murder or manslaughter charges.
This issue is not an extension of the war on drugs, but it is an important point of distinction. An example I regularly use is if a distributor was bootlegging alcohol and illegally selling it to our kids and local communities. Now imagine if this distributor was coloring cyanide brown while calling and packaging it as whiskey. This is how we look at fentanyl distribution. This is the reason certain fentanyl cases are now being identified as poisoning rather than overdoses. During these conversations we hope to also work to reframe the way this committee looks at this crisis. I long for a day when fentanyl death related cases are no longer being referred to our office.
The fentanyl crisis takes commitment at every level – local, state and federal. It also takes commitment from officials to look at both the supply as well as demand. Our office remains committed to proactively educating our local community on the dangers of fentanyl, providing treatment to those struggling with addiction and substance use disorders, while also working collaboratively to have our laws recognize the tragic effects of this epidemic.
For these reasons, I hope you support Assembly Bill 18.
Placer County District Attorney
10810 Justice Center Drive #240
Roseville, CA 65678