NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The CDC estimates drug overdoses in Tennesee are up by nearly 9% compared to last year. Much of the blame is on fentanyl, which is why several new proposals are being pushed to fight back against the epidemic.
Law enforcement officers see the crisis firsthand. On Tuesday, the Williamson County Sheriff’s Department showed News 2 the aftermath of a major drug bust. Amongst the items seized included a large amount of money, marijuana, guns and fentanyl.
“The main majority that we wanted to get off the street was the fentanyl. The fentanyl, we’re having overdoses at least twice a week, we go to overdose calls all the time now. We’re trying to get that fentanyl off the street as much as we can,” said an undercover officer.
It’s a problem across the state. Earlier this month, Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti, joining a multi-state effort, urged President Joe Biden to classify fentanyl as a “weapon of mass destruction.”
“Tennessee has been affected to a devastating extent by the opioids epidemic and there are collateral consequences like the rise of fentanyl,” said Attorney General Skrmetti during a sit-down interview with News 2 in September.
Skrmetti pointed out the importance of cracking down on synthetic opioids.
“There have been so many deaths, there have been so many families torn apart, there have been so many lives ruined by opioids. We’re never going to be in a position to make it alright,” said Skrmetti.
This week, Tennessee Senator Bill Hagerty introduced a bill that would make distributing fentanyl chargeable as federal felony murder. The letter goes on to say, the new measure would put an end to “the deadly drug crisis wreaking havoc on our country.”
“It’s a parent’s biggest fear, is having to bury a child. In a perfect world, we think, okay our children are going to bury us, but in reality, we don’t read the fine print,” explained Angela Covington-James.
James’ son, Tre, died in August 2019. The reality of the deadly effects of fentanyl is near to her heart. James found her 27-year-old son dead in his bedroom. At the time, she said he only had two pills in his system.
“When you got people, and they’re finding one or two pills like they did in Tre’s system, that’s not an overdose, we have to call a spade a spade, that’s murder. Somebody intentionally, put that in whatever they gave to him, he thought he was taking that turned out to be pure fentanyl, and that’s what’s happening all over the world,” said James.
In August, President Biden addressed the overdose epidemic, with a detailed plan calling for a $42.5 billion investment in National Drug Control Programs.