WASHINGTON, D.C. (KPEL News) - Tuesday was National Fentanyl Awareness Day. As we all know, fentanyl has devastated the lives of millions of people across the United States of America. It has taken lives way too young and has left families in heartache.

unsplash via Colin Davis
unsplash via Colin Davis

U.S. Senator John Kennedy is tired of seeing fentanyl's destruction, especially in his state of Louisiana where the numbers of its impact is staggering.

My state of Louisiana—like every other state in this country—has seen the carnage of fentanyl. We all have. In 2021, 94 percent of drug overdose deaths in New Orleans were related to what? Fentanyl.

Kennedy delivered those words on the U.S. Senate floor as he presented his bill called the Fairness in Fentanyl Sentencing Act of 2023. This legislation is aimed at cracking down on fentanyl trafficking by lowering the threshold required for minimum sentencing in light of the drug’s potency relative to other substances.

You have to have 400 grams. . . to face a mandatory 10-year sentence. Four-hundred grams will kill 200,000 people dead as a doornail. Shreveport, Louisiana . . . is home to 184,000 people. So, a dealer could [have] 400 grams—an amount that could kill every man, woman, and child in Shreveport— . . . in order to get a mandatory 10-year sentence.


Kennedy then went on to give more details about the widespread damage fentanyl is causing across Louisiana.

Our coroner’s office in East Baton Rouge Parish investigated 300 overdose deaths. Eighty-eight percent of them, last year, were linked to fentanyl. In the average month, in St. Tammany Parish . . . . we lose 10 or 11 people, just about every month . . . to fentanyl overdoses.”

And Kennedy is laying blame at the foot of the Biden Administration and "the cartel thugs who operate south of our border."

Our Customs and Border Protection officers are working as hard as they can to try to stop drugs from flowing into the country, but their hands are tied by our bad policies. More people have crossed the border in the last year than at any time in the history of ever. That’s a fact. More than 5 million people have entered this country illegally under President Biden, during the Biden administration. I only have 4.6 million people in Louisiana. . . .The problem is expected to get even worse...and more people will be coming in.

Kennedy's Fairness in Fentanyl Sentencing Act of 2023 would reduce the amount of fentanyl that a fentanyl dealer has to possess before facing the madatory minimum of five years in prison. As Kennedy's website points out, current mandatory minimum sentences for fentanyl trafficking only apply when a trafficker possesses 40 grams or more of fentanyl or 10 grams or more of a fentanyl analogue. The Fairness in Fentanyl Sentencing Act of 2023 would reduce the threshold of possession for minimum prison sentences to two grams of fentanyl or 0.5 grams of a fentanyl analogue.

Fentanyl is 50 times more potent than heroin. . . . It only takes two milligrams to kill you. . . . The amount of fentanyl that you can put on the point of a pencil will kill you...When you’re dealing with fentanyl, the amounts really matter.

The bill failed to pass the Senate, though, as party politics appears to have come into play once again.

At the end of the day, the brokenness in Washington needs to be set aside to tackle this horrific problem. Whether it be a bill from Kennedy or a bipartisan bill from both sides of the aisle, our elected leaders have to show leadership to reverse the devastation caused by fentanyl because as Kennedy points out:

These are sons. These are daughters. These are friends. These are coworkers. And every one of them has a family.

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