Committee will focus on the rapid spread of fentanyl and how to stop the over 6843 overdose deaths that occurred in California last year
- Abigail Rivamonte Mesa
Sacramento – Assemblymember Matt Haney (D-San Francisco) announced today that the Speaker of the Assembly, Anthony Rendon, has approved the creation of a Select Committee on Fentanyl, Overdose Prevention & Opioids. The committee has been created to address the raging fentanyl and opioid crisis that has claimed the lives of over 6,800 Californians last year.
Assemblymember Haney’s district in San Francisco has been hard hit by the opioid epidemic, with an average of 53 people dying a month from accidental drug overdoses. Haney, who has spent the last decade living in the city’s Tenderloin District—has been a leading voice calling for an emergency response to the crisis unfolding on the streets of the Tenderloin and all over California.
“This is a statewide epidemic that is impacting every county and every city in our state. It demands a statewide plan with solutions as big as the crisis itself,” said Assemblymember Haney. “This committee will be laser focused on finding real world solutions to reverse the fentanyl and opioid addiction epidemic and save lives. Cities and counties are on the frontlines of this epidemic, but they can’t do this alone, they need the state to step up and lead.”
The 11 person bipartisan committee will focus on three areas: public health response to opioid addiction; the response of law enforcement to the sale of opioids and fentanyl; and current medical practices for treating opioids and fentanyl addiction. The committee will hold hearings across the state, and will hear testimony from national addiction experts, impacted residents, local and state leaders.
“COVID has understandably captured our attention,” said Stanford Professor of Psychiatry, Keith Humphreys, who served as senior drug policy advisor to President Obama. “But drug overdoses have cost our country many more lives. This select committee is desperately needed both for the people of California and the nation as a whole.”
“Since starting our program, we’ve been shocked by how many teens and young adults in the community have come to us desperate for help,” said Dr. Lee Trope, Director of inpatient treatment of youth with opioid addiction at Santa Clara Medical Center. “Our youngest patient addicted to fentanyl was just 12 years old. Many had been snorting or smoking as many as 10 fentanyl pills a day—some every two to three hours. Several had previously tried to stop ‘cold turkey’ many times, only to find withdrawal so intolerable, and help so hard to find, that they grudgingly went back to get more opioids in the street for relief. I’ve learned from these kids that it's usually harder to get help than to just keep using. We need to change that.”
The committee will be a bipartisan effort with representatives from all over California. The committee's 11 members will travel across the state to hold meetings in cities and counties hit hardest by the fentanyl crisis. The select committee will hear reports from local police departments, public health departments, and families affected by the opioid epidemic to better understand the effects of fentanyl’s spread through California communities. The goal of the committee will be to generate policy solutions and develop a comprehensive statewide plan to confront fentanyl and opioid overdoses.
“Fentanyl is a tsunami that has swept into Orange County at breakneck pace,” said Assemblymember Laurie Davies (R-Laguna Niguel.) “Approximately 668 people died by overdose in 2020. Of these, 432 of them died with large amounts of fentanyl in their systems. It's imperative the state step up its enforcement and crack down on individuals who are illegally bringing these drugs into our communities. In addition, we must pass policies to ensure those who are addicted to controlled substances have the tools and resources needed to overcome and cope with their addiction. As a member of the Select Committee on Fentanyl, Opioid Addiction, and Overdose Prevention I look forward to working with my colleagues on finding solutions to end this epidemic that is plaguing our state.”
“I want to thank Chair Haney for his leadership on this select committee,” said Assemblymember Isaac Bryan (D-Los Angeles.) “We’re in a substance use and overdose public health crisis. The time for change and solutions rooted in healing and saving lives is now. I am looking forward to joining the fellow members of this committee in identifying and uplifting those solutions.”
“I’ve seen firsthand the devastation that fentanyl wrecks on local communities,” said Assemblymember Haney. “We have to do everything in our power to stop this drug that’s taken the lives of so many Californians. There are solutions that exist to get people into treatment, to educate the public, to reverse overdoses and to stop the unfettered access to these drugs. We need to act with urgency and determination to identify those solutions to this public health emergency and expand them dramatically and immediately. This committee will help us get there.”
Members of the Select Committee on Fentanyl, Overdose Prevention, & Opioids
Assemblymember Matt Haney (D-San Francisco)
Assemblymember Isaac Bryan (D-Los Angeles)
Assemblymember Laurie Davies (R-Laguna Niguel)
Assemblymember Ash Kalra (D-San Jose)
Assemblymember Jim Patterson (R-Fresno)
Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Laguna Beach)
Assemblymember James Ramos (D-Highland)
Assemblymember Robert Rivas(D-Salinas)
Assemblymember Kelly Seyarto (R-Murrieta)
Assemblymember Marie Waldron (R-Escondido)
Assemblymember Jim Wood (D-Santa Rosa)