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Measure to Better Enforce Against Fentanyl Dealing Clears Major Hurdle

AB 701 (Villapudua) Passes out of Assembly Committee on Public Safety

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Carlos Villapudua (D-Stockton) released the following statement after AB 701 passed out of the Assembly Committee on Public Safety this morning.

“What happened in the Public Safety Committee this morning was a massive win for families across California,” said Assemblymember Villapudua. “We are one step closer to bringing justice to victims of the fentanyl epidemic by holding large-scale dealers of this poison accountable for their actions. I am grateful for the bipartisan support from the committee today and look forward to the continued efforts on getting AB 701 signed into law.”

According to the California Department of Public Health, fentanyl was responsible for 5,722 overdose deaths in California in 2021. This represented 83 percent of all opioid-related overdose deaths and an increase in deaths of over 40 percent from 2020. Fentanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. Despite this, current law goes much easier on kilo-level dealers of fentanyl compared to kilo-level dealers of heroin and other similar substances.

AB 701 brings parity to the laws enforcing against the dealing of dangerous substances by adding fentanyl to the list of controlled substances – that currently includes heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and similar substances – for which stiffer penalties may be levied against dealers of kilo-levels and higher. By focusing on such a large quantity, the policy does not target low-level dealers or users.

“I want to thank Assemblymember Villapudua for his hard work on getting AB 701 passed out of the Assembly Public Safety Committee,” said Ron Freitas, San Joaquin County District Attorney. “This bill gives us another tool to prevent massive fentanyl distributors from wreaking havoc on our communities. However, our work is not done. I respectfully urge all members of the Legislature to address this epidemic through the continued support of AB 701.”

After today’s passage, AB 701 will be voted on in Assembly Appropriations Committee soon before receiving a vote on the Assembly Floor.