New state bill aims to fight fentanyl crisis in Central California and beyond

California Assembly Bill 2365 would fund six pilot projects across the state focused on reducing the fentanyl epidemic.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The fentanyl epidemic is gripping Central California. But not enough people know about the drug's dangers.

Now a new plan in Sacramento could help change that problem.

"We lost over 100,000 people to fentanyl deaths last year in the United States of America," Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp said.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that can be up to 100 times stronger than morphine and come with deadly consequences within just one use.

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Fresno Assemblyman Jim Patterson and members of law enforcement as well as educators spoke Monday on legislative action aimed at stopping the crisis before more lives are claimed.

"As of today this bill is now on consent, it is receiving widespread support," Patterson said.

Assembly Bill 2365 would fund six pilot projects across the state focused on reducing the fentanyl epidemic, while providing education to the public in the form of awareness campaigns on billboards and commercials.

"What we're looking at is somewhere in the neighborhood of $3 million to $6 million and we have six pilot projects which could mean half a million to a million dollars for each of these six pilot projects," Patterson said.

Up until now Fresno County's law enforcement and education leaders have collaborated to fund a fentanyl awareness and prevention campaign.

"We know we have families in this community that are hurting because of this crisis that will never get over this crisis," said Fresno Deputy Police Chief Mark Salazar.

"The promise in the bill is two in Central California, two in Northern California and two in Southern California and the template for the application is built around the successful partnership you see here," Patterson said.

The hope is, according to Patterson, AB 2365 will pass and get to the governor's desk for his signature by the end of the year - with grants into the six pilot projects by January of 2023.

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