Rantz: Fentanyl isn’t the health crisis. Seattle’s Democrat policies are the problem
King County is ready to declare the fentanyl overdose crisis a public health emergency. But it’s Democrat policies that are the problem. And while Seattle King County Public Health are sounding alarms, they’re also promoting “safer” drug abuse due to a “health equity and justice” approach.
There have already been 264 confirmed fentanyl-involved deaths in Seattle and King County in 2022. We’re on pace to exceed last year’s record high 396. It’s not the only drug crisis, either. Opioid deaths are on the rise at 308 this year, with meth at 192.
Rather than take this crisis seriously, public health officials adopt a “harm reduction” strategy and offer tips on how to get high.
The King County Council’s Law, Justice, Health and Human Services committee unanimously passed legislation declaring the “widespread distribution of fentanyl and fentanyl-related overdoses a public health crisis.”
The well-intentioned move is meant to collect information on mitigation strategies, offer public awareness recommendations, and publicly express a public policy statement that the council takes this seriously. It heads to a council vote in the coming weeks where it will certainly pass.
But it’s not fentanyl, per se, responsible for the current crisis. It’s Democrat policies that have effectively legalized drugs, along with the adoption of a harm reduction model that still leads to death — just more slowly.
Public Health distributed flyers on how to get high while avoiding a fatal overdose.
The flyer recommends you “start with a tested shot” warning that “Fentanyl is a potent drug about 100 times more powerful than other opioids.”
And you should not get high alone. Instead, invite friends over and “watch and wait before the next person uses.”
“If everyone you’re with is using, take pills in turns, just in case they’re laced with a deadly dose of fentanyl. There’s no one to get help if everyone has overdosed,” a second flyer states.
Don’t forget to stock up on Naloxone. They recommend you pick some up at your local needle exchange program. But that’s not all.
“If used correctly, fentanyl test strips can detect the presence of fentanyl in street drugs and pills,” a flyer says.
Talk about a conflicting message: fentanyl use is a crisis, but we’ll help you get high.
Democrats made this worse
Pre-COVID, Democrat leaders and Public Health sought to end the stigma associated with drug addiction out of fear it would stop people from seeking treatment. They pretended that someone in the throes of addiction was self-conscious about how they’d be viewed if they admitted they had a problem.
Consequently, drug use was effectively legalized with the King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg and then-Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes refusing to prosecute most drug-related crimes. Public Health officials, meanwhile, distributed needles, booty-bumping kits, Narcan, and more to addicts — including minors.
During COVID, Democrats and Public Health made drug addiction even easier to continue. When the virus shut down officers, Public Health sent mobile units to the addicts to help enable their addiction by handing out tools to shoot up.
“When COVID-19 hit our community, we transitioned to a model that minimizes the time someone needs to be out in public — reducing their risk as well as staff risk of exposure to COVID-19. We work with people to try to get a sense of what they need to stay safe for a two- to three-week period,” a spokesperson from Public Health told the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH last year.
Unsurprisingly, this approach had led to a surge in overdose deaths, the bulk of which hit white males over 20 years old the hardest. Black men are disproportionately impacted as they reflect 17% of the overdose deaths.
Democrats keep ignoring the data
In 2018, Satterberg announced he would not charge for personal possession of controlled substances. He effectively legalized drugs, arguing the so-called “War on Drugs” was a failure. That same year resulted in the start of a years-long surge in overdose deaths.
Since 2018, the county has seen a jump in overdose deaths tied to fentanyl, cocaine, and meth. Heroin deaths were consistently high but did not see a surge, most likely due to addicts switching to fentanyl or meth. Concurrently, since 2018, we’ve seen a surge in drug-related crimes and homelessness. Satterberg’s policies have been to blame.
Satterberg and his democrat cheerleaders consistently cry out that the “War on Drugs” was a failure. But when the county adopted harsher penalties on drug use over a decade ago, there were far fewer overdose deaths. Still, Satterberg’s approach was lauded by activist-journalists.
Then, statewide, drug possession was decriminalized by an activist Washington State Supreme Court.
What happened next? More deaths thanks to a constant supply of drugs flooding our streets from China and our open southern border. When you legalize drugs, nefarious actors take notice.
Jail must be an option
While recognizing it’s not the only option, jail must be one of the options for addicts.
If someone knows they won’t suffer any legal consequences — such as a teen — they’ll be more apt to try taking oxycontin recreationally. Depending on where he buys it, that pill is likely laced with fentanyl and can easily lead to a fatal overdose.
The homeless addicts who keep smoking fentanyl in downtown Seattle on 3rd and Pike? Throw them in jail and hassle them constantly until they take us up on our offers of addiction services. If they’re unwilling to get help, then keep them in jail where they can be compelled to get clean.
Democrats aren’t willing to do this, of course. They view the criminal justice system as a system of white supremacy that must be dismantled. Even the state’s plan to tackle opioid abuse declares itself more eager to signal one’s support of left-wing causes than to address the crisis.
The State Opioid and Overdose Response Plan’s partners recognize that Black Lives Matter and that racism, discrimination, criminal legal system involvement, and the stigmatization of individuals who use drugs are systemic problems that disproportionately affect people of color. This impact has manifested in profoundly unequal outcomes during the course of the war on drugs and has resulted in over-representation of people of color in the criminal legal system, further amplifying stigma and racism.
The argument effectively states too many black drug users were jailed. I suppose they’d rather them get off easy and die on the streets like white addicts? I suppose Democrats never really did identify as pro-life.
I don’t care if an addict feels stigmatized if it means that stigma leads to getting help. And drug addiction should have a stigma attached to it. It kills.
Fentanyl isn’t the health crisis. Democrat policies are the problem.
More people are dying from fentanyl than other drugs in the county. The Council is right to focus on the fentanyl overdose crisis.
But Democrat policies and approaches permissive of deadly drug use are causing the overdose deaths. There’s a reason you see a surge of deaths concurrent to Democrats’ approach to drug use and addiction. Partisans blinded by their own ideology — and adherence to BLM principles — are the ones killing addicts with policies that enable addiction.
Rather than hand out needles, we should fund more addiction services. Instead of flyers promoting “safer” drug use, we should stigmatize the deadly addiction. And instead of declaring the fentanyl crisis a public health emergency, we should declare the county’s own policies are to blame.
But none of that will happen. And it’s why we’ll keep losing more people to addiction. But Democrats and Public Health officials feel better about themselves when they fight systemic racism and stigmatization — even if it kills the people they pretend to fight for.
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