Jelly Roll Urges Congress to Pass Anti-Fentanyl Trafficking Legislation: “It is Time for Us to be Proactive”

Rapper-turned-country singer Jelly Roll spoke about the importance of prioritizing the fentanyl crisis at a Senate hearing on Thursday. 

The musician, whose real name is Jason DeFord, testified before the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, chaired by Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio.

Jelly Roll urged Congress to pass Brown’s Fentanyl Eradication and Narcotics Deterrence (FEND) Off Fentanyl Act, which would wield financial sanctions against drug traffickers to disrupt the flow of opioids coming in from China and Mexico.

Jelly Roll, who from the age of 14 spent 10 years in and out of detention facilities for drug dealing and other crimes, said he was part of the problem but now wants to be part of the solution. 

“I brought my community down. I hurt people,” he testified. “I was the uneducated man in the kitchen playing chemists with drugs I knew absolutely nothing about, just 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.”

Sen. Brown cited data showing 110,000 Americans died due to unintentional drug overdoses in 2022.

Jelly Roll pointed out that the 190 people on average who overdose and die every single day in the U.S. is the equivalent of a packed 737 aircraft going down daily. He said the country has ignored the rising drug issue because of its attitude towards addiction. 

“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,” he said. “Because America has been known to bully and shame drug addicts, instead of dealing and trying to understand what the actual root of the problem is with that.” 

Noting that the crisis has affected many of his friends and family members, he asked Congress to pass the FEND OFF Act before it is too late. 

“It is time for us to be proactive and not reactive,” he said. “We were reactive with crack, we were reactive with opioids, and y’all are taking the first step at somebody in the Senate finally being proactive. I truly believe in my heart that this bill can help stop the supply of fentanyl.”

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