BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — As fentanyl continues to ravage Kern County and the nation, the issue is receiving increased political attention as lawmakers propose different plans on how to address the crisis.
Tuesday afternoon, Assemblymember Dr. Jasmeet Bains (D-Delano) presented her proposal for a fentanyl addiction and overdose prevention task force to the Assembly Health Committee.
“This is going to be a seat at the table for both health care providers and law enforcement in addition to prosecutors and district attorneys to have a voice to tell us where we’re failing in legislation to hold people accountable for trafficking drugs,” Dr. Bains told 17 News about her bill.
It comes as over the weekend while announcing a new contract to produce insulin in the state, Gov. Gavin Newsom said he hopes to make the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone in California, a move he says will make the drug cheaper and more easily available.
“Naloxone, each kit comes with two doses and it ranges in price from $50 to $75, so it’s not cheap,” Administrator for Substance Use Disorder at Kern Behavioral Health and Recovery Services Ana Olvera said.
Olvera says Kern BHRS receives its naloxone through grants, adding that has allowed it to coordinate with county libraries to distribute the drug and provide training. Although Olvera says currently they are adequately supplied and it is much easier to obtain a free dose in Kern than at this point last year, there was a time when they faced a shortage.
“There was a spike in demand because of local events. We had that case of the student in junior high and we also had attention around North High and so those kind of local events really prompt more interest,” Olvera said.
Meanwhile, Assemblymember Vince Fong (R-Bakersfield) told us more attention in Sacramento needs to be put on the drug coming across the border.
“We’ve had bill after bill, legislative proposal after legislative proposal to increase penalties on drug dealers, to provide law enforcement the support and tools they need to go after these bad actors. And the governor and his allies have stifled all of those attempts,” Fong said. “At the end of the day, what do we really need to do on top of that is to actually empower our law enforcement to go after these drug dealers and to ensure that fentanyl does not come over the border.”
Olvera emphasized the assistance Kern Behavioral Health and Recovery Services provides for those struggling, including a 24-hour access line at 1-866-266-4898.