SANTA ANA (CBSLA) - Drug overdoses and deaths due to fentanyl are being called an epidemic, which is why Orange County leaders held a special hearing Thursday to address the growing problem.
"This legislation is going after the traffickers and the dealers who are killing our kids," said Assembleywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris said at today's meeting.
A sentence of 20 years to life is the punishment Petrie-Norris is pushing for anyone who sells fentanyl in areas around children.
Poisoning by fentanyl is the leading cause of death for kids 17-years-old and under in Orange County. Fentanyl-related deaths in 2021 have skyrocketed to 636 in the county, a 1,600% increase from 2016.
Maggie Fleitman knows the stories well. She offers grief-support for parents through an organization she founded called Solace For Hope.
"They didn't struggle at all with any kind of a drug, but they experimented, they took something from a friend or they found something off Snapchat and they're gone. Just one time...just, they're gone," she said.
At a hearing in Orange County, goals were discussed to try and save lives.
A county addiction advisor repeated the need for thousands of Narcan medication kits in the community to reverse the effects of an overdose.
Law enforcement wants prosecution for traffickers who sell drugs, which result in fentanyl killings.
Another 150 people who died in 2021 of drug-related causes in Orange County could end up on the fentanyl death list pending their toxicology reports.
"It's a real crisis and you don't know that it's laced with fentanyl. Sometimes you're taking a Xanax, thinking that you're going to have a...what we might call a Xanax high, but really it's laced with fentanyl and it could killed," said Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley.
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