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Advocates Rallying for California Voters to Decide Fate of Fentanyl Dealers

Frustrated by what they say is a lack of action in the California legislature, child advocates and parents of fentanyl victims are taking action of their own, and they tell the NBC4 I-Team they want active registered voters in California to help. 

With a handful of legislative proposals regarding fentanyl stalling at the state capitol, the nonprofit organization based out of Orange County,, has started a new campaign to hold dealers accountable.   

 “If you kill someone, you killed someone,” president and CEO of, Janice M. Celeste, said. “Even if you killed someone by accident with your car, there is some sort of penalty, there is some sort of court procedures that you have to go through.”  

“We decided to come out with a proposition for a ballot initiative to bring it to the people, and we want to get their vote on whether or not we need stronger laws for drug dealers who kill specifically with these pills,” she added. 

Celeste said the group is currently conducting a phone poll, asking 800 randomly selected state registered voters what changes they would like to see regarding fentanyl legislation, from more drug education to substance abuse treatment to harsher penalties for criminals.   

“Then we will write the legislation from that poll. We will do a petition and get the signatures we need — 650,000 signatures. It’s a really big lift,” Celeste said. 

The Drug Enforcement Administration told the NBC4 I-Team that in 2021, fentanyl was responsible for 50% of drug deaths in Los Angeles County and 64% in Orange County.    

Matt Capelouto lost his daughter, Alexandra, to fentanyl poisoning in 2019 and supports the proposal.

“We will take it to the people if we have to,” Capelouto said. 

State Senate Bill 44 is known as “Alexandra’s Law” and would have given anyone convicted of a fentanyl-related drug crime a warning that if it happened again and a person died, they could face stricter charges including murder. That bill failed to pass a state senate committee late last month.  

“If the state legislature, specifically those in the Public Safety Committee, won’t do their job, we will do it for them,” Capelouto said.  

The State Assembly Public Safety Committee did send on for further consideration bills that would increase fines for fentanyl dealers, prohibit them to carry guns, and create a fentanyl task force.  

Celeste said her group hopes to get an initiative on the ballot for the upcoming presidential election in 2024.  

Source: NBC Los Angeles

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