Our View | Dealing Death in Sacramento

Our View

It’s murder. Even if the law doesn’t yet say so.

When someone sells drugs to a person, knowing the drugs contain a deadly dose of fentanyl, they’re killing someone. They should be held accountable. 

But don’t tell that to the so-called “progressive” wing of the Democratic supermajority in the California Legislature.

In the public safety committees of both the state Assembly and  Senate, sensible legislation has been struck down that would have increased penalties for distributing fentanyl and held dealers accountable for the consequences when they literally are dealing death.

The “progressives” are responsible for halting the bills, some of which actually had bipartisan support, with co-authors that included Republicans and sensible Democrats.

The legislators who killed the bills argued that the bills would do nothing to “rehabilitate” the offenders and would only add to the prison populations.

And of course, that particular brand of legislator is hard-pressed to find a criminal they don’t want to set free in the name of “reform.”

What they fail — or refuse — to recognize is that the fentanyl crisis differs from past drug crises in very critical ways.

First, the drug is fatal in tiny doses — as in, about the amount that could fit on the tip of a pencil. 

This drug doesn’t just create an addiction problem. It creates a dying problem. Right here in the Santa Clarita Valley, it’s estimated that more than 30 people were killed by fentanyl in 2022. The number is probably higher. Statewide, more than 5,700 were killed in 2021.

Second, fentanyl is now the nation’s leading cause of death among young people, and it’s also a threat to many who may not be considered “young” and may not even fit the profile of what you’d envision as someone who would buy drugs like heroin or cocaine “on the street.”

Yes, those who buy fentanyl-laced drugs include people who want to get high, but it also includes people seeking a work-around to address a medical issue, or at least a perceived medical issue. For example, individuals who are convinced they need prescription medication, but can’t get that prescription from a medical profession that has become increasingly cautious about prescribing such things, find themselves turning to online and social media markets.

In effect, the black market. And those counterfeit pills are very likely laced with fentanyl, courtesy of the Sinaloa Cartel and Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion, which are manufacturing the deadly pills en masse and shipping them to the U.S. across our porous southern border.

Message to the Sacramento “progressives”: Let us know how it goes when you try to “rehabilitate” those cartels.

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, the cartels “are making fentanyl and pressing it into fake pills. Fake pills are made to look like OxyContin, Xanax, Adderall, and other pharmaceuticals. These fake pills contain no legitimate medicine.”

Yet, in both the Senate and Assembly public safety committees, bills failed to advance that would have treated fentany as the public safety crisis that it is. Three Assembly bills failed to pass — two were killed and one was “held for study — and four bills were shot down on the Senate side.

The bills’ provisions included: sentencing enhancements for those who seriously injure or kill through fentanyl poisoning; increased penalties for selling fentanyl over social media; increased penalties for possessing fentanyl for sale; increased penalties for buying, selling and transporting “rainbow” fentanyl; the addition of fentanyl to the list of controlled substances (heroin, cocaine base, and cocaine) that are eligible for an additional prison term; and, a requirement for courts to advise individuals convicted of fentanyl sales and manufacturing-related offenses that subsequent offenses could result in a charge of voluntary manslaughter or murder.

So much of the fentanyl crisis makes no sense. If nothing else, the business model contains a fatal flaw: The product kills its customers. 

Our Legislature’s handling of the crisis makes no sense, too.

Two legislators who represent the SCV, notably, have been the voice of reason in the face of the completely unreasonable power brokers in Sacramento.

“This is clearly a different playbook than dealing with the crack cocaine crisis in the ’90s,” Assemblyman Tom Lackey, R-Palmdale, said during Thursday’s hearing. “Fentanyl is not akin to crack. These victims of this drug die. They don’t have a chance for rehabilitation. This is a completely different toxin, and should be treated as such. And therefore, when you consider that these victims have a final outcome — a final, they’re gone — that deserves different consideration and penalty enhancements are more than deserved.” 

State Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, issued a statement laying the blame squarely at the feet of the “progressive” contingent in the Legislature. 

“Right now in Sacramento the progressives are calling the shots within the Democratic Party, and they’ve made it crystal clear they are not serious about finding solutions to the fentanyl crisis,” Wilk’s statement said. “Fentanyl is pure poison, and it is now the leading cause of death for young people in the United States. The very least we should do is hold dealers accountable for their deadly actions. Standing back and doing nothing is frankly a slap in the face to victims and their families.” 

Indeed, these decisions by the public safety committees of both houses of the state Legislature make no sense, unless you concur with the most “progressive” wing of the Democratic Party.


If this is “progress,” then the word has lost all meaning.

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