Singer-songwriter Jelly Roll Advocates for anti-fentanyl Legislation

UNITED STATES - JANUARY 11: Musician Jason "Jelly Roll" DeFord testifies during the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee hearing titled “Stopping the Flow of Fentanyl: Public Awareness and Legislative Solutions,” in Dirksen Building on Thursday, January 11, 2024. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Rapper and country artist Jelly Roll, who has had a troubled past, is now advocating for Congress to pass legislation aimed at combating the trafficking of fentanyl.

The artist, known as Jason DeFord, openly admitted on Thursday his involvement in the situation.

However, he informed lawmakers that he has personally witnessed the widespread destruction caused by drugs throughout the United States.

“I’ve been to more sombre occasions than I care to disclose,” he said.

“I could spend endless hours lamenting the caskets I’ve borne, holding the remains of those I hold dear, with a profound sense of sorrow.”

Fentanyl continues to claim countless lives in the US, with over 100,000 deaths reported in 2022, as per data from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

The US Drug Enforcement Administration has discovered that a significant majority of fake prescription pills laced with fentanyl are extremely dangerous, with six out of 10 containing a lethal dose.

The acclaimed winner of the Country Music Award passionately appealed to lawmakers in the Senate’s Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee to swiftly approve the bill. This crucial legislation aims to impose strict financial sanctions on individuals involved in drug trafficking, with the goal of disrupting the illicit drug trade originating from Mexico and China.

DeFord emphasised the importance of taking a proactive approach rather than a reactive one towards the crisis.

Despite advocating for legislation proposed by Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown, he emphasised the bipartisan nature of the issue.

He expressed his strong conviction that this bill has the potential to put an end to the distribution of fentanyl.

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During his testimony, DeFord highlighted the alarming fact that an average of 190 individuals succumb to fentanyl overdoses every day.

He inquired of Congress the potential impact of daily reports on plane crashes resulting in the loss of 190 lives, highlighting the immense media attention it would receive.

“But due to the fact that it’s 190 individuals struggling with addiction, our perspective differs,” DeFord expressed, highlighting society’s tendency to stigmatise and marginalise those battling drug addiction.

Throughout his teenage years, DeFord found himself entangled in legal issues, frequently being in and out of detention facilities due to drug-related offences.

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

“I had a negative impact on my community. I have caused harm to others. I was an uninformed individual in the kitchen experimenting with substances I had no knowledge of, much like the current actions of these illicit drug distributors who are combining various drugs with fentanyl. “And they’re taking the lives of our loved ones,” he informed senators.

He expressed his desire to contribute to the resolution while addressing Congress.

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