Home>Articles>Proposed Ballot Initiative for Stricter Penalties for Fentanyl Drug Dealers

Boy looks under voting booth at Ventura Polling Station for California primary Ventura County, California, Ventura County, CA, Jun. 7, 2016. (Photo: Joseph Sohm/Shutterstock)

Proposed Ballot Initiative for Stricter Penalties for Fentanyl Drug Dealers

‘We want to let the legislators, who voted against every form of penalty for these drug dealers, know that we are holding them accountable’

By Evan Symon, April 18, 2023 6:12 pm

A new movement that is pushing for a proposition to give stricter penalties to drug dealers who sell fentanyl, was started in California this week, with the group behind it saying that the strategy is to begin with a public opinion poll about the issue to help determine the best way to craft the proposition proposal.

2024 already has a large number of planned propositions due to many wanting to skip over the 2023 election in November, and focus on 2024, when more voters are expected to come out with the Presidential, Senate, Congressional, and state legislative elections.

So far, ballot initiatives include fast food regulation, new oil and gas well prohibitions, a new pandemic funding tax, labor law lawsuit changes, voter limitations on raising revenue for government services, and a minimum wage raise.

However, groups continue to push for more initiatives to be on the ballot because of the turnout, including one by FentanylSolution.org. The Newport Beach-centric group was founded earlier with this year with the expressed determination to combat the fentanyl crisis.

According to their website, Fentanyl Solution is “deeply committed to making a difference and saving lives by addressing the devastating impact this dangerous drug has on communities across the country. With an immediate focus on Orange County, we strive to raise awareness, provide education, and mobilize action to prevent the spread of fentanyl. Our goal is to bring together individuals, families, and organizations to work towards creating a safer future for everyone, especially our children. We believe that by working together and changing laws, we can effectively stop the spread of this drug and make the world a better and healthier place for all.”

To achieve that, they are planning a “Poll-to-Prop initiative.” Started this month with an initial $2.2 million bloc of funding with the purpose of creating stricter penalties for fentanyl dealers, the group plans to conduct an initial poll and gather data on what voters in the state want to see in a potential proposition that would have stricter penalties for drug dealers who sell fentanyl. The results of the poll would then be crafted into a ballot initiative. From there, it would go to the signature gathering phase, with the hope that enough are given in time to qualify for the 2024 ballot.

A potential ballot proposition

“We want to let the legislators, who voted against every form of penalty for these drug dealers, know that we are holding them accountable,” said Janice M. Celeste, President & CEO of FentanylSolution.org. “We believe that drug dealers who sell fentanyl and murder their customers must pay the price for their actions. The Poll-to-Prop initiative is a crucial step in our efforts to raise awareness about the need for stricter penalties for these criminals.”

While Californians have been shown to want to get rid of fentanyl and other harmful drugs off the streets, a progressive push for criminal justice reform that includes less jail time for dealers and alternate punishments to prison has been shown to be popular amongst many as well, with the right way to combat the crisis growing cloudy in recent years. With the fentanyl crisis getting worse, and the number of fentanyl overdose deaths rising across the state, many have seen hope for a return of stricter measures. A pushback against progressive policies and elected leaders for them has also brought significant hope of a change as well.

“This is why people are doing polls or getting public opinion about issues like this first,” drug policy consultant and former police officer Esteban Carter told the Globe Tuesday. “California once had hard-on-crime policies in place, then went for more progressive policies. But now, with crime and drug use going up again, and dealers being back on the streets quickly after being arrested, people are looking back for longer sentences once again. And this proposition kind of defines this returning thought. Walk down a few blocks on a random street in San Francisco, and you’d see why.”

Polling for the potential measure is expected to begin soon.

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Evan Symon
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