Fentanyl Poses Danger to Residents of Georgetown County | Georgetown weather

I was invited to a kick-off meeting last Tuesday, sponsored by a group of concerned citizens, to discuss raising public awareness of an issue we’ve been hearing about daily for 20 months. To say what I heard was a terrible shock is not enough to describe the emotions I felt during the hour and a half I spent learning about fentanyl and the impact it has about our county and our municipalities.

County Councilor Everett Carolina and Mrs. Eileen Johnson initiated this kickoff meeting because of what they were exposed to in their area of ​​the county. They invited local law enforcement, fire/EMS, government council members, our county coroner, county council and school board candidates, citizens and commission members involved in the local alcohol and drug abuse and concerned citizens who have been personally affected by this drug.

I learned that the first time this drug enters the bloodstream, the person becomes addicted. It can be injected, ingested and even touched to be delivered into the body. It does not matter whether a person is young or old; black, white or yellow, educated or not; destitute or wealthy; the end result will, in all likelihood, be fatal.

Law enforcement, firefighters, and emergency medical services personnel have described what they experience daily as they deal with the detrimental effects of this drug on the citizens of our county. Entering homes, hotels/motels and even public restrooms where people have overdosed and died or need to be resuscitated and moved to the nearest emergency room. Our coroner, Chase Ridgeway, had planned to attend the meeting, but was called to Murrells Inlet to collect the body of a 22-year-old young man who had expired fentanyl.

The antidote to Fentanyl is a drug called Narcan by people who administer it daily to those in need. We were told the price per dose is around $40. Sometimes a Fentanyl user who has overdosed may need more than one dose and doctors have reached the point where when prescribing narcotics they will also prescribe Narcan for an overdose. Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.

The roundtable that took place became an emotional rollercoaster for me. As a father and grandfather, it broke my heart to hear the stories of people who have lost family members and to see them cry as they poured out their hearts. Listening to the people, both professionals and volunteers, who work with drug addicts about all the issues they face as they navigate the bureaucracy trying to find help and funding for those at risk.

By the end of the session, I had gone from heartbroken to furious. I asked a law enforcement officer if fentanyl distribution was top-down and if anyone was caught selling, how long would it take to put them in jail and how much long would he be incarcerated.

The answer to the first question was mixed. There’s probably loose organization, but not like alcohol was run by organized crime in the 20th century. My understanding is that this is a horizontally integrated business where dealers find the easiest resistance path to make the most profit. It seems obvious that this loose organization makes it unlikely that law enforcement will be able to plan and carry out a major drug operation.

As far as how long it takes to lock up a dealer for any length of time, law enforcement must respect our rule of law, dot the i’s and cross out all the t’s, which can take two years and the sentence will vary depending on the judge.

There was a bill, Senate Bill 429, at the state level that would treat fentanyl very differently than other illegal drugs. As I understand it, the bill was first introduced in January 2021 and amended in March 2022. The bill states, among other things, that “a person convicted of homicide caused by fentanyl in accordance with the provisions of this article shall be imprisoned not more than 30 years.

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Unfortunately, this stand-alone bill was held hostage to a legislative battle between representatives who could not agree on whether to legalize recreational marijuana and medical marijuana or just medical marijuana. As a maneuvering tactic, one side or the other tried to attach whatever they wanted to SB 429 in order to get whatever they wanted through.

Whoever these people are, they are either naive about the lethality of Fentanyl, or their political agenda is more important to them than the welfare of our fellow citizens! Because of the above, none of the three bills became law until the end of the two-year legislative session that expired this spring. They are all dead. I believe it is up to the citizens of our state to demand that the fentanyl bill be resurrected next year and impress upon the Senate and the House that it must pass!

Just days before attending this kickoff, I watched a speech given by President Trump. At one point, he focused on the fentanyl crisis exacerbated by our open southern border. He asked the question “Did you know that some countries don’t have a drug problem?” Then he added, in his own words, that it is because the penalty for selling drugs in these countries is death. I kept thinking about what he said while I was at the meeting. I weighed what I learned about the human tragedies and complexities faced by those who deal with the problem day in and day out.

In the end, I decided that if I had a vote on this issue, I would not argue for a maximum sentence of 30 years, I would demand the death penalty for selling Fentanyl!

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Bob Anderson is a Georgetown County Council member from District 2.

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