Country artist Jelly Roll pushes for anti-fentanyl bill

Rapper and country artist Jelly Roll, who at one time sold drugs, is now urging Congress to pass anti-fentanyl legislation that targets traffickers.

The two-time Grammy nominee, whose real name is Jason DeFord, acknowledged on Thursday the role he once played in the crisis.

But he told lawmakers he has also personally seen the devastation drugs are causing across the US.

“I’ve attended more funerals than I care to share with y’all,” he said.

“I could sit here and cry for days about the caskets I’ve carried of people I love dearly, deeply, in my soul.”

Fentanyl is a leading killer in the US – contributing to over 100,000 deaths in 2022, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Six out of 10 fentanyl-laced fake prescription pills contain a lethal dose of fentanyl, the US Drug Enforcement Administration found.

The Country Music Award winner urged legislators in the Senate’s Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee to pass the bill, which would enforce financial sanctions against drug traffickers to disrupt the flow of the drugs coming from Mexico and China.

DeFord said it is time to “proactive”, not “reactive” towards the crisis.

Though he was lobbying for legislation put forward by Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown, he said this was a bipartisan issue.

He said: “I truly believe in my heart that this bill will stop the supply and can help stop the supply of fentanyl.”

In his testimony, DeFord said 190 people on average die a day from a fentanyl overdose.

He asked Congress: “Could you imagine the national media attention it would get if they were reporting that a plane was crashing every single day and killing 190 people?”

“But because it’s 190 drug addicts, we don’t feel that way,” DeFord said, adding that society has been known to “bully and shame drug addicts”.

From the age of 14, DeFord ran into trouble with law, spending 10 years in and out of detention facilities for drug-related crimes.

“I believed when I sold drugs, genuinely, that selling drugs was a victimless crime,” DeFord said.

“I brought my community down. I hurt people. I was the uneducated man in the kitchen playing chemist with drugs I knew absolutely nothing about, like these drug dealers are doing right now when they’re mixing every drug on the market with fentanyl. And they’re killing the people we love,” he told senators.

He said he stands before Congress now “as a man that wants to be a part of the solution”.

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