Home>Articles>Bill To Let Californian Voters Decide On Fentanyl Consequences Introduced In Assembly

Assemblywoman Diane Dixon (Photo:dianeforcouncil)

Bill To Let Californian Voters Decide On Fentanyl Consequences Introduced In Assembly

Constitutional Amendment ACA 12 is the latest attempt by lawmakers to help reign in the fentanyl crisis

By Evan Symon, June 7, 2023 3:30 am

A bill if passed, would have Californian voters decide on a Constitutional amendment over if fentanyl dealers should be made fully aware of the consequences for selling the deadly drug and be held accountable, was introduced in the Assembly on Tuesday.

Assembly Constitutional Amendment 12, authored by Assemblywoman Diane Dixon (R-Newport Beach), would require a criminal court to advise a person who is convicted of, or who pleads guilty or no contest to, the selling or administering of illicit drugs and counterfeit pills and that, if a person dies as a result of that action, the defendant can be charged with homicide. In addition, the court would be required to read the advisory statement in a case in which the defendant exchanged a controlled substance containing fentanyl or its analogs for anything else of value. The advisory statement would also be included in a plea form, with ACA 12 also requiring that the fact the advisory was given be recorded in the abstract of conviction and would prohibit the advisement from being used as evidence in the prosecution of a minor in juvenile court.

Assemblywoman Dixon and the dozens of GOP and Democratic lawmakers backed ACA 12 on Tuesday given the skyrocketing number of fentanyl deaths in California, which currently amounts to around 6,000 a year. Specifically, ACA 12 is named after 20-year-old Alexandra Capelouto who died before Christmas in 2019 after taking one counterfeit pill that contained a deadly dose of fentanyl. Her death, along with many others, spurred many lawmakers to attempt to increase punishments and accountability for fentanyl dealers in the past several years, including SB 44 and AB 1058 earlier this year. However, with those attempts fizzling out due to duplicate bills and worry among some Democrats that it could retract on some progressive reforms, most fentanyl limiting bills failed to reach even Assembly or Senate votes.

With the public continuing to ask for more to be done about the crisis, lawmakers instead chose to create a bill to let the people decide, with ACA 12 to go on the ballot in November 2024 if passed by the Legislature this year.

Republicans and Democrats behind ACA 12 expressed hope on Tuesday that the bill will receive the required 2/3rds vote to allow the Californians people to decide the issue for themselves later this year.

ACA 12 and the voters of California

Sen. Brian W. Jones. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

“Fentanyl is destroying the lives of too many Californians and something must be done,” said Senate Minority Leader Brian Jones (R-San Diego) in a statement on Tuesday. “Since this Legislature has failed to act quickly, California Republican lawmakers are asking voters to decide how to tackle the fentanyl crisis. If approved, the bipartisan ACA 12 will help hold repeat, deadly drug dealers accountable and work towards ending the dangerous epidemic.”

Senate Minority Caucus Chair Janet Nguyen (R-Huntington Beach) added that “This measure aims to protect our citizens from the dangers of illicit drugs, specifically highlighting the risks associated with fentanyl. It will ensure that all those involved in drug-related crimes are informed of the potential legal consequences, including the possibility of being charged with homicide if someone dies as a result. By raising awareness and promoting accountability, we can prevent tragedies and prioritize public safety.”

Experts noted that while many Californians would prefer to see harsher punishments against those dealing with fentanyl, that ACA 12 could lead to bigger things in the future.

“It would be a start,” explained Bay Area Security consultant and former policeman Frank Ma to the Globe on Tuesday. “There’s been an announcement on something here and there, but nothing major has been done about fentanyl on a broad scale for some time. This would just be telling those involved with fentanyl what the major consequences could be, but that would be a decent foundation to potentially build on.”

“Most people, especially in hard hit areas of San Francisco, want fentanyl dealers and suppliers to be thrown in jail with the key thrown away. But that isn’t happening right now. Nor are harsher penalties in general. So we needed to resort to scaring many away from doing it in the beginning. It probably won’t be too successful, as most dealers already are very well aware of the consequences, but it’s something. And if the voters are overwhelmingly for it, it could put pressure on holdout Democrats to finally pass bills installing harsher penalties.”

“And that would lead to a huge test for Newsom. Does he uphold the progressive policies and look weak on crime, or would he pass them? But that’s in the future. Right now there is an important amendment coming up, something of which most Californians want to see. “

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Evan Symon
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3 thoughts on “Bill To Let Californian Voters Decide On Fentanyl Consequences Introduced In Assembly

  1. No doubt Democrats in the legislature will vote against this common sense Constitutional amendment? They don’t want anyone to be held accountable for their actions especially when it comes to those who are selling illicit drugs and counterfeit pills? Their cartel cronies don’t want this legislation either?

  2. This is the one that we might get to vote on? Really?
    I would like a vote on making highway 37 a toll road.
    Why didn’t we get a vote on some of the most destructive policies we have seen in recent years.

    1. California Transportation Commission voted unanimously to make Highway 37 a toll road. The California Transportation Commission consists of eleven voting members and two non-voting ex-officio members. Of the eleven voting members, nine are appointed by the Governor, one is appointed by the Senate Rules Committee, and one is appointed by the Speaker of the Assembly. The two ex-officio non-voting members are appointed from the State Senate and Assembly, usually the respective chairs of the transportation policy committee in each house. So the California Transportation Commission if full of Democrats who were appointed by Democrats! Who should you blame for making Highway 37 a toll road? DEMOCRATS!

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