Did that get your attention?

Some context on this breathtaking stat from the Attorney General.  Austin Knudsen released a statement explaining that the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task forces confiscated over 20,000 percent more fentanyl doses in 2023 than five years ago in 2019.

20,000% more fentanyl captured than five years ago.  Let that sink in.

In 2020, just over 6,500 doses were seized.

In 2021, over 60,500 doses.

2022, just under 189,000 taken,

2023, just under 400,000 doses were seized.  A 6,000% increase from 2020.

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With the availability of this potent drug, has the fatalities risen?  Afraid so.  According to the AG's press release, four people died from fentanyl overdose in 2017; six years later in 2023, 80 lost their lives.  That number is likely higher because the 80 is only those verified by the State Crime Lab with an autopsy.

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Credit: Carolina K. Smith,M.D., Getty Stock, TSM Media Center

This is a statewide problem that is part of a nationwide epidemic.  "...until the southern border is secure the problem will not be solved," Mr. Knudsen said, calling out the current President.  The AG has suggested classifying fentanyl as a weapon of mass destruction and designating drug cartels as terrorist organizations.

During the 2023 legislative session, the AG arranged the funds for two more narcotics agents for the Division of Criminal Investigation.  He also backed Senate Bill 67 update the schedules of controlled substances, and House Bill 791 to set mandatory punishments for fentanyl selling: two years in prison, a fine of $50,000, or both.

AG Knudsen included a personal request: "Please, never take a pill that isn’t prescribed to you and talk to your children about the dangers of drugs. Just one pill can take a life,”

What do you think of this growing issue?

What steps should state law enforcement and courts take?  What should individual Montanans do?  I greatly appreciate your feedback.  Please email me at travis.lee@townsquaremedia.com.

And please play it safe out there.

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