Why are California lawmakers picking on fentanyl, as if they think they can stub it out like a tired old joint? Surely they know saying ‘you may not’ is the best way to get a person to say ‘I will’. Are we sniffing partisan politics aimed at scoring cheap points? Have they nothing better to do with their time.
A California assembly woman was hyped when she claimed 10 Californians die because of fentanyl daily. Doesn’t she know 11 Californians die in traffic smashes every day too? If we asked her to ban autos we bet she’ll say something along the lines of, driving is their right but they need to be careful.
Her Assembly Bill 2246 wants to impose harsher penalties for distributing and possessing fentanyl. We just discovered soft drinks kill 25,000 Americans annually. Imagine the riots if the feds started locking up schoolkids sharing their coke with a capital c. We’re not trying to score cheap points. We just want everybody to be treated the same!
But it seems the California assembly woman is being a little inconsistent. We haven’t seen her lock up any used auto dealers yet. But she wants to impose a twenty-year-to-life-sentence on fentanyl dealers if their clients overdose. And make even possessing two grams of the stuff a felony offence. It could be better to encourage safe use instead!
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration shot itself in the foot the other day when it linked fentanyl to opioid deaths. But forgot to mention driving drug use underground encourages dealers to mix fentanyl with other substances. And these mixtures can produce fatal results. Perhaps the administration should take a lead from the way it handles medicine.
Many medications have serious, even deadly side effects when patients overdose. But Food and Drug Administration manages this admirably by approving packaging, and leaflets with dosing advice. We’re almost tempted to believe prejudice stands in the way of regulating recreational drugs this way. And that’s a real kick in the teeth for people with liberal values, don’t you think?
Los Angeles Times had its skirts tucked up tight to avoid standing in any poo, when it published proof of the failure of the system to manage fentanyl related deaths. It seemed to miss the point hammering the substance underground is the real problem, and not regulating it responsibly. Remember how the illegal liquor trade flourished during Prohibition?
A Sacramento assemblyman also seemed disconnected when he pushed the wrong buttons as if Prohibition never happened. He hopes to control social media in ways that never worked before. His impractical solution might gain him a few illiberal votes. But we can’t see him airbrushing fentanyl out of Snapshot and Facebook any time soon.
Many autocratic governments have tried (and failed) to suppress the will of the people to choose for themselves. Now the Sacramento assemblyman wants to first. It’s crazy even talking this way!
There has to be better method to resolve this issue. We need to get to the bottom of why people drug, and resolve the root causes that often include prejudice. We’ll explore this in more detail in a couple of moments. But we first need to share something exciting happening in California right now.
There’s a fellow in California Senate pushing his SB 57 bill hard, and here we may have a ray of light. He wants to introduce safe injection sites where fentanyl users can enjoy their drugs under guidance by qualified staff. If he gets it right, pilot programs will follow in San Francisco, Oakland, the city of Los Angeles and Los Angeles County.
This visionary public representative hopes to ‘reduce harm, save lives and help people get connected to treatment and services’. This makes a deal more sense compared to forcing users into dark alleys. As the California senator himself says, it’s time we have a hands-on-deck response that actually works.
Unfortunately some reactionary public reps are still beating their worn-out drums according to Los Angeles Times. Three bills heading for the California legislature hope to enforce these distinctly illiberal policies together:
- Force hospitals to test urine samples for fentanyl – what happens to the info?
- Oblige courts to warn certain convicted people dealing in fentanyl is dangerous.
- Threaten dealers with voluntary manslaughter / murder charges if customers die.
- Establish a California fentanyl abuse task force to collect data on fentanyl usage.
Just imagine if they tried that on American auto drivers, or their kids using sugar-loaded soft drinks. The calls for personal choice and freedom would be deafening! But the agents of these new rules could be up for a tough ride.
That’s because the California assembly woman might hit a brick wall on California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk. Remember her? She’s the one who wants to impose harsher penalties for distributing and possessing. But said Gov. could veto her proposal if it gets to that point, because he favors rehabilitation and not involving courts.
California state director for Drug Policy Alliance spoke a pile of common sense when she said ‘My concern is that once you introduce a measure like this that targets sellers, in addition to folks feeling stigmatized it really pushes them more underground.
‘We also see people engage in more risky behavior, which leads to more individuals dying.’ Federal efforts to crack down on fentanyl are going nowhere slowly. They’ve done little to disrupt the supply chain and cut down on use.
We watch and wonder from our perch at Dark Matters. Will the same illiberal tactics work any better with a new bill number stamped on them? We doubt they will make a dime of difference to the recreational drug scene. Any more than telling kids to stay away from soft drinks will change anything after we look the other way.
What we really need is a shot of common sense injected into the American system. Or rather should we say a total rethink perhaps? Why do we want to keep sending young people to prison? Let’s move the dealers aside and manage this the way we do alcohol.
Author: Richard Farrell (Dark Matters Contributor)