Jelly Roll spoke passionately about the fentanyl crisis at a Senate committee hearing on Capitol Hill. In an effort to address the flow of fentanyl into the United States, the Grammy-nominated country singer testified before the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday.
As a former drug dealer, Jelly Roll, whose real name is Jason DeFord, opened up about his role in the crisis.”I was part of the problem,” he said. “I am here now standing as a man that wants to be part of the solution.”
Music artist Jelly Roll urges Congress to pass anti-fentanyl legislation:
“I’ve attended more funerals than I care to share with y’all. I was a part of the problem. I am here now standing as a man that wants to be a part of the solution.”pic.twitter.com/mE0NBcePtY
— Benny Johnson (@bennyjohnson) January 11, 2024
During his speech, Jelly Roll outlined how the fentanyl crisis has affected the country, citing shocking statistics. “I am here to address a dire crisis crippling our nation, one that has likely claimed the life of a friend, child, or relative of nearly everyone in this room. The opioid epidemic, especially the devastation caused by fentanyl, demands immediate action,” he said in his opening statement. “It is a national emergency. Americans are dying every day, and at a staggering rate.”
According to him, nearly 107,000 Americans died from overdoses in 2021, with 65 percent of those deaths being related to fentanyl. In addition, Jelly Roll noted that 2022 “witnessed an even further increase in fentanyl-related fatalities. Astonishingly, the DEA confiscated over 379 million doses of fentanyl that year, enough to end every American life.”
Then, Jelly Roll spoke about how he has personally been affected by the fentanyl crisis. “In the past two years, I have attended four funerals for loved ones lost to recreational drugs tainted with lethal substances,” he shared. “My purpose here is not to defend the use of illegal drugs, and I recognize the paradox of my past as a drug dealer now addressing this committee. The essential truth is that enacting legislation to combat the supply and distribution of fentanyl will save lives.”
During the hearing, he urged the committee to pass the “Fend Off Fentanyl Act,” a bipartisan bill that targets Chinese chemical suppliers and Mexican cartels. “Fentanyl transcends partisanship and ideology,” he said. “I could sit here and cry for days about the caskets I’ve carried of people I’ve loved dearly, deeply, in my soul. Good people.”
He added, “At every concert I perform, I witness the heartbreaking impact of fentanyl. Fans, grappling with this tragedy in their families, seek solace in music and hope that their experiences won’t befall others. They crave reassurance — that their elected representatives value their lives and those of their lost loved ones above political agendas. My appeal to this committee, and to all members of the House and Senate, is to offer this hope. Let’s demonstrate that compassion and concern for American lives are bipartisan values.”
In his swift rise to fame, the Whitsitt Chapel singer has been very open about his past drug abuse. A former drug addict who struggled with cocaine for years before breaking into the music scene, the “Save Me” singer was arrested over 40 times before the age of 22. After his daughter Bailee was born while he was in jail for possession of crack cocaine, he found a path to kick the vice.
During his interview with The Guardian in November, Jelly Roll expressed his desperate desire to see action taken against the US fentanyl crisis. “Fifteen people an hour die in the United States of America right now.” According to the outlet, at least 30 people he knows have died from drug addiction, and when he considers his own friends who are still struggling, he feels survivor’s guilt.
“I have a phone full of the sob stories; guys I knew from the past. And they want two grand, five grand, a car, a house.” He laughs at the notion that people think he is in a position where he can just hand out houses. “So you read them. And it just hurts. The guilt you feel creates a spiral of shame. But it also hurts to separate yourself from these people.”