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Measure to Crack Down on Fentanyl Possession Passes through the Assembly

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Carlos Villapudua (D-Stockton) issued the following statement after AB 701 passed the Assembly Floor vote yesterday.

“I am beyond grateful for the resounding bipartisan support from my colleagues yesterday,” said Assemblymember Villapudua. “This vote showcased the Assembly’s commitment to our families who have been crying for help as the victims of the fentanyl epidemic continue to pile up. High-level traffickers have exacerbated addiction issues throughout California, and it’s time we hold them accountable for the destruction they have caused.”

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.

AB 701 adds fentanyl to the list of controlled substances – which currently includes heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine – for which stiffer penalties may be levied against dealers of kilo-levels and higher.

“While we continue to provide resources for drug treatment and education, we cannot neglect the trafficking that spreads this poison throughout our community. It is more important than ever to address the supply of this poison, because people no longer have the same opportunity as drug users of the past to seek rehabilitation. One pill does kill; it only takes one time. For as long as we remain lenient on penalizing fentanyl possession, it will continue to be the substance of choice to lace into Percocet, Xanax, Oxycodone, or other more common drugs. I am excited to see similar eagerness from my fellow Assemblymembers to address this.”

AB 701 will now be referred to the Senate for a vote in the Senate Committee on Public Safety.