We voted to deter fentanyl traffickers. Canyon County senators should do the same | Opinion

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Today, Idaho is embattled in an urgent war against fentanyl trafficking. The devastation that this poisonous drug is leaving in its wake is unprecedented, unnecessary, and avoidable. Because with fentanyl, it isn’t a matter of if a one-time, recreational, or habitual user will encounter a deadly dose, but when.

Idaho must cut off the flow of fentanyl at the knees. That is why I vehemently support House Bill 406 and its stringent ramifications for those found guilty of trafficking fentanyl. It is important to point out that all elected members of the House of Representatives from Canyon County voted in favor of this bill. We are united in wanting to put the pushers of this deadly poison behind bars for a set amount of time and I want to see the good senators from Canyon County join me in their vote. Our districts have seen the ramifications of fentanyl and that is why we need to be a united front in our fight against these drug traffickers. I hope that after the Senate votes, I can stand and say that 100% of the elected leaders from Canyon County stood in this fight together, and that we will do all we can to support our law enforcement and protect our constituents.

I must address the discussion regarding the effects House Bill 406. Opponents have twisted and distorted this legislation to try to make it seem as though it aims to punish the individual user. This is incorrect. The purpose of this legislation is to be their saving grace, by preventing an individual’s hands from even touching fentanyl in the first place by putting the drug peddler behind bars.

Over the past several months, I have had many talks with our law enforcement, met with members of my district, and discussed with my fellow colleagues in the House of Representatives about the fentanyl public health crisis. In 2022, Idaho reported 188 deaths related directly to a fentanyl overdose. The 2023 numbers are not yet available, but we can only assume that, unfortunately, that number will be higher. I have also learned that 7 out of every 10 pills on the streets contains a fatal dose of fentanyl, largely due to the fact that it only takes 2 milligrams of fentanyl to kill the average American.

As a husband, father, and elected member of the House of Representatives, I cannot stand back any longer and not address this fentanyl issue head on. I have heard enough about the damaging effects that are ruining Idahoans lives — and that is why I voted to support House Bill 406.

I understand this legislation isn’t the solution that will stop drugs from ever coming into our state, but this is a first step in creating a powerful deterrent to send a strong message against fentanyl traffickers. By establishing a tough stance against those who exploit the vulnerability of adolescents and individuals struggling with addiction, we can halt the influx of this lethal substance into Idaho. By supporting House Bill 406, we will show anyone looking to harm those within our community by distributing or selling fentanyl that we will catch you and lock you up.

Our neighboring states to the west have tried the social experiment of being sympathetic to dealers and traffickers, and we are seeing in real-time that it does not work. Just last week, Oregon issued a 90-day state of emergency in efforts to combat fentanyl. Just days after, it is reported that King County, Washington has recorded more than 1,100 overdoses and of those, 1,073 were due to fentanyl. Now, the city of Seattle says it has no room for bodies at the morgue. Idaho has never followed in the footsteps of Washington and Oregon, and these recent reports are a good reason why we should not start now. We must continue to put the best interests of our state and citizens first. HB406 continues our efforts.

We should not wait until Idaho is making headlines to decide we need to take action against fentanyl traffickers. We must use the tools here in front of us to combat the heavily skilled and powerful criminal organizations who deal fentanyl for profit.

I applaud my fellow members in the Idaho House for overwhelming voting for HB406. Now, I urge my colleagues across the rotunda to do the same. This issue has been debated; our law enforcement supports it and so do 86% of Idahoans. I ask our Idaho senators to take this first step with us in doing what is right for our citizens and send House Bill 406 to the Governor’s Office.

Rep. Brent Crane, R-Nampa, is chair of the House State Affairs Committee. He represents Legislative District 13.