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Villapudua Champions Fight Against Fentanyl with AB 2336

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Carlos Villapudua (D-Stockton) hosted a Fight Against Fentanyl press conference this morning with legislators, impacted families, and law enforcement to discuss fentanyl’s impact in California and how we are addressing it. In the conversation, Villapudua unveiled AB 2336 as a continuation of his efforts to close loopholes and bring parity to how we enforce against fentanyl compared to other dangerous substances.

“The fentanyl crisis continues to provide unimaginable grief for too many families across California,” said Villapudua. “This poison has exacerbated addiction difficulties across our streets, and claims thousands of lives every year in this state. We cannot take our eye off of this public health and safety epidemic. We must remain committed to listening to the families crying out and working with those who have been directly impacted so we can provide the appropriate support. I am grateful for the steps taken last year, and look forward to the continued momentum in holding traffickers and dangerous dealers accountable.”

Preliminary data from the California Department of Public Health shows that fentanyl was responsible for 90 percent of opioid overdose deaths, and 62 percent of all drug-related overdose deaths in California in 2023. Fentanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. Despite these statistics, current law continues to provide more leniency on fentanyl enforcement compared to other hard drugs, such as heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and PCP.

Last year, Governor Newsom signed AB 701 (Villapudua) to start closing loopholes and enforcing against fentanyl as strongly as we enforce against other hard drugs. However, discrepancies still remain throughout our drug enforcement laws that must be addressed in order to provide parity and recognize the dangers of fentanyl.

Current statute provides a felony sentence for the possession of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, or PCP alongside a firearm – notably excluding the far more dangerous substance, fentanyl. The possession of a firearm alongside these dangerous substances can lead to rapid escalations in violence and unintended, permanent, life-altering consequences for those caught in the crossfire. AB 2336 will continue the work started by AB 701 by simply adding fentanyl to this list of hard drugs for which it is a felony to be in possession of alongside a firearm.

"I vehemently advocate for legislation that unequivocally criminalizes the possession of fentanyl,” said Senator Marie Alvarado-Gil (D-Jackson). “This poison requires only the equivalent of two grains of salt to claim a life. It is an insidious threat that demands swift action. Combining it with firearms is a recipe for even more catastrophic consequences. It is time to send a clear message: anyone caught in possession of fentanyl and a firearm will face severe consequences. We must protect our communities, and it starts with enacting strict laws that leave no room for ambiguity or leniency."

Senator Alvarado-Gil led the initial charge on this policy last year in the form of SB 226. AB 2336 is expected to receive a hearing in the Assembly Committee on Public Safety this spring.

ACV at podium