Newsom Late Crackdown On California’s Fentanyl Crisis

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has finally decided to tackle the deadly fentanyl crisis that has escalated in the state under the Biden administration, particularly in Democrat-run San Francisco. The governor’s move involves deploying the National Guard, partnering with the California Highway Patrol, California National Guard, San Francisco Police Department, and the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office.

Despite the city’s crime index ranking significantly worse than Jacksonville, Florida, Newsom claims that San Francisco is safer. Regardless, Police Chief Bill Scott has assured residents that the city is acting to remove the deadly drug and restore a sense of security.

Newsom will focus on “dismantling fentanyl trafficking and disrupting the supply of the deadly drug in the city by holding the operators of large-scale drug trafficking operations accountable.” However, the plan emphasizes targeting drug suppliers and traffickers rather than criminalizing those struggling with substance abuse.

Fentanyl-related deaths have skyrocketed in San Francisco, with the drug crisis becoming even more lethal than COVID-19. Civic engagement group TogetherSF Action highlights that the city has become synonymous with open-air drug markets and rising rates of fentanyl addiction.

At the state capitol, both Republican and Democratic lawmakers agreed to a behind-the-scenes deal that will schedule a special hearing in the coming week to address delayed fentanyl bills. However, some, like California Assembly Minority Leader James Gallagher, argue that the process to reach this point has been unacceptable.

Assembly Public Safety Committee Chair Reggie Jones Sawyer has criticized some proposals for being “duplicative or providing no rational solutions at all.” Nevertheless, San Francisco Assemblymember Matt Haney urges the importance of a united approach: “The fentanyl epidemic is impacting every city and every community in our state… And so our response has to be about coming together with real solutions.”

The special hearing will take up at least six bills, including one that calls for creating a fentanyl task force. Another bill focuses on increasing sentences for fentanyl dealers found to have caused great bodily injury or death. In contrast, a separate bill targets fentanyl dealers caught selling on social media.

Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris insists on a different approach to this crisis: “This is not a drug, this is a poison. The way we are approaching this needs to be different, and needs to recognize just how dangerous and deadly this substance is.”

Newsom’s belated action against the fentanyl crisis is a welcome step, albeit long overdue. However, the success of this initiative will depend on a unified and effective response from law enforcement and legislators alike. For the sake of honest, law-abiding Californians and what is left of the state’s reputation, let’s hope it is not too late.