Legislation sponsored by Senator Holly Schepisi that would designate July 14th of each year as Fentanyl Poisoning Awareness Day was signed into law today.
"The signing of this legislation marks an important milestone in the fight against Fentanyl poisoning in New Jersey. Far too many young Americans like Max Lenowitz have had their lives cut short because of Fentanyl poisoning. Max, who was born on July 14th and tragically lost his life on his 25th birthday, was a son, a brother, an athlete, and a friend to so many," said Schepisi (R-39). "This epidemic has accounted for more than seventy-five % of drug related deaths in New Jersey. With the official recognition of July 14th as Fentanyl Poisoning Awareness Day we can help bring attention to available resources within our communities to prevent future deaths from occurring."
According to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), drug traffickers are mass-producing Fentanyl-laced synthetic opioids and marketing them as fake prescription drugs.
From October 2020 to October 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 105,000 americans lost their lives due to drug induced deaths, 69,000 of those were related to Fentanyl. During the pandemic, Fentanyl, not COVID-19, became the leading cause of death for individuals between the age of 18 and 45.
The New Jersey Department of Health confirmed that there were 2,914 overdose deaths in 2019, 2,266 of which were confirmed as Fentanyl. This was a staggering increase of nearly 500% compared to the 417 Fentanyl deaths recorded in 2015.
Thousands of young New Jerseyans have been impacted by Fentanyl-laced drugs, including Max Lenowitz, who tragically lost his life in 2022 on his 25th birthday after being poisoned with a counterfeit Xanax pill laced with Fentanyl. His mother, Patrice, has worked closely with Senator Schepisi and staff on SJR-128 to help raise awareness about the dangers of Fentanyl poisoning in all drugs.
"I am proud to have sponsored this legislation to help raise awareness about the dangerous substances that are flooding our communities and poisoning many of our younger residents," Schepisi added. "This new law will help all of New Jersey become more educated about Fentanyl so that we can all work together to protect more individuals from falling victim to this lethal drug."