Rapper and country music star Jelly Roll gave powerful Senate testimony on the country’s fentanyl crisis and called for tougher legislation to curb it.
The musician, whose real name is Jason DeFord, told the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hearing on Thursday how he had been personally impacted by the drug.
“I’ve attended more funerals than I care to share with y’all, this committee. I could sit here and cry for days about the caskets I’ve carried of people I love dearly, deeply, in my soul,” he said.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that 112,000 people died from a drug overdose in the 12 months ending in May 2023, a 2,700 increase from the previous year.
The CDC says that fentanyl and synthetic opioids were responsible for the vast majority of those deaths.
Jason ‘Jelly Roll’ DeFord testifies before the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs committee on 11 January 2024— (Getty Images)
Mr DeFord urged US senators to pass the FEND Off Fentanyl Act, which is a “sanctions and anti-money laundering bill to help combat the country’s fentanyl crisis by targeting opioid traffickers devastating America’s communities.”
“It is time for us to be proactive and not reactive,” he told the committee.“I truly believe in my heart that this bill will stop the supply and can help stop the supply of fentanyl.”
The musician also openly addressed his history of drug-related crimes.
“I believed when I sold drugs, genuinely, that selling drugs was a victimless crime,” he said while acknowledging that he had once been “part of the problem.”
And he added: “I brought my community down. I hurt people. I was the uneducated man in the kitchen playing chemist with drugs I knew absolutely nothing about, just like these drug dealers are doing right now when they’re mixing every drug on the market with fentanyl. And they’re killing the people we love.”
The two-time Grammy nominee continued, “I am here now standing as a man that wants to be a part of the solution.”