The California Democratic-dominated legislature has shown a continued commitment to rolling back criminal penalties for drug-related crimes, even in the face of a deadly fentanyl crisis that has claimed more lives in California than any other state. With overdose deaths accelerating, the State Assembly’s public safety committee recently blocked or weakened several bills to crack down on fentanyl dealers.
These bills aimed to strengthen punishments for dealers who kill or seriously injure someone with fentanyl or are caught with enough of the synthetic drug to kill thousands were not about criminalizing addiction or returning to the war on drugs, as some have claimed. Instead, they were “reasonable, bipartisan proposals to save lives,” according to Assembly Republican leader James Gallagher.
"Progressive California lawmakers bent to political pressure and revived a handful of bills this week to crack down on fentanyl dealers—only to turn around and kill or weaken most of the measures."https://t.co/munJrt45SE
— bluoz (@auweia1) April 29, 2023
In a disturbing prioritization of politics over public safety, Democrats in the California legislature have remained committed to their progressive push for drug decriminalization. However, rather than taking action against fentanyl dealers, they have touted “harm reduction” programs as a superior alternative, despite evidence to the contrary. Assemblywoman Mia Bonta, for example, cited California’s $61 billion investment in such programs as evidence that they are “doing something,” even though the results have been far from satisfactory.
Instead of taking meaningful action to combat the fentanyl crisis, the committee advanced three relatively incremental measures against dealers: boosting sentences to match those of cocaine and heroin sellers, encouraging law enforcement cooperation and launching a task force to study fentanyl trafficking.
Meanwhile, public safety committee chair Reggie Jones-Sawyer promised a follow-up hearing in May to discuss a “holistic” strategy that includes more money for treatment, education, and overdose medication.
This lack of decisive action has frustrated many Californians, tired of seeing their communities ravaged by the fentanyl epidemic. As Assemblyman Jim Patterson pointed out, focusing on harm reduction alone is inadequate when dealers with 2,000 pills face only misdemeanor charges and are back on the streets in days. “If we really cared about the addicts, wouldn’t we also care that their dealers are out on the street, churning more and more?” he asked.
The legislature’s inability to address the fentanyl crisis is just one example of the broader problems plaguing California’s progressive paradise. As a result, many law-abiding Americans are fleeing the state in record numbers, seeking refuge in areas where the government prioritizes their safety over politics.
In the face of this exodus, California Democrats should recognize that their soft-on-crime policies are doing more harm than good. Failing to hold fentanyl dealers accountable for their actions not only undermines public safety but also sends a message that the state is willing to prioritize ideology over the well-being of its citizens. It’s time for California to put its citizens first and take real action against the fentanyl crisis.