Legislation sponsored by Senator Holly Schepisi that would designate July 14th of each year as Fentanyl Poisoning Awareness Day was approved by the Senate Health, Human Services, and Senior Citizens Committee.
"Most people are unaware of the fact that a loved one can die, not just by taking heroin, but rather what they believe to be a prescription pill given to them by a friend. Counterfeit pills made to look like Xanax, Valium, and Ativan containing Fentanyl are poisoning our children, our friends, our neighbors and has become an epidemic in New Jersey," said Schepisi (R-39). "This is an issue that hits close to home for thousands of New Jersey families as Fentanyl recently accounted for more than seventy-five % of drug related deaths in the state. Far too many young Americans, like Max Lenowitz, a son, an athlete, and a friend to so many, have had their lives cut short because of Fentanyl poisoning. This resolution would honor individuals like Max and raise awareness for the thousands of other victims who have tragically lost their lives to this lethal drug so we can work to prevent further 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 Center 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 in 2015.
Thousands of young New Jerseyans have been impacted by Fentanyl-laced drugs, including Max Lenowitz, a 25-year-old who tragically lost his life in 2022 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.
"Raising awareness about these dangerous substances that are flooding our communities can help prevent more individuals from being poisoned by this lethal drug," Schepisi added. "This bill would set aside one day each year to remember those who have had their lives taken by Fentanyl."