SACRAMENTO—Two bills to combat the deadly fentanyl crisis—one making lifesaving treatment against opioid overdoses more accessible and another holding social media platforms more accountable for monitoring illegal activity on their platforms—were introduced by Assemblymember James C. Ramos (D-Highland).
“Fentanyl-related deaths are skyrocketing across the state and nation, and as I wrote in an op-ed last year, we can only succeed in confronting this surge of fatalities with an ongoing assault on many fronts,” Ramos said. “We must deal with both law enforcement and the underlying mental health issues that may lead to substance abuse,” he added.
Ramos met over the last year with families and friends of fentanyl victims such as retired San Bernardino police sergeant Steve Filson as well as mental health professionals such as Dr. Veronica A. Kelley, former director for the San Bernardino County Department of Behavioral Health.
“The loved ones of those who have fallen to fentanyl want to know we are doing all we can to end this plague,” Ramos said. “Families repeatedly told me we must do all we can to prevent fentanyl sales that are made easier through social media and to stop deaths from fentanyl overdoses. That’s why I introduced AB 1627, which makes Naloxone, commonly known by the trade name Narcan, more available to the public to help prevent deaths during overdose emergencies.”
One provision in AB 1627 would allow the state Department of Public Health to award grants to local law enforcement agencies to create overdose response teams to confront the ongoing opioid crisis in their communities. Implementation of this provision would be dependent upon an appropriation by the Legislature.
The second Ramos fentanyl measure, AB 1628, would require social media platforms such as Snapchat to develop policies to explicitly prohibit individuals from using the platform for illegal distribution of controlled substances such as fentanyl and to conspicuously post those policies. The policies must also be submitted to review by the state Attorney General. Platforms would also be required to work with experts to spot bad operators who are targeting minors.
The lawmaker observed that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Center for Health Statistics recently announced that 100,000 people died of overdoses between April 2020 and April 2021. It was the first-time drug-related deaths reached six figures in any 12-month period. According to news reports, the milestone data showed there are now more overdose deaths from the illegal synthetic opioid fentanyl than there were overdose deaths from all drugs in 2016. Reports also suggest the high number of deaths is related to fentanyl contamination of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, and other drugs. CDC data suggested fentanyl was involved in more than 60 percent of the overdose deaths last year.
“This war against fentanyl must be fought on all fronts,” said Ramos. “We must provide resources to law enforcement, ensure social media platforms are effectively monitoring their sites to prevent banned activity, and train more individuals in the use of treatments like Narcan and make them more readily available to the public for use during overdose emergencies. It is what our families demand.”
Assemblymember James Ramos proudly represents the 40th Assembly district which includes Highland, Loma Linda, Mentone, Rancho Cucamonga, Redlands, and San Bernardino. He is the first and only California Native American serving in the state’s legislature.