Country rocker Jelly Roll pushes for new anti-fentanyl legislation at Senate hearing

Country rocker Jelly Roll called for stronger legislation against the fentanyl crisis, testifying Thursday before a Senate committee that he has “attended more funerals than I care to share.”

“During the time I’ve been given to share my testimony here, I think it’s important to note before I start that in these five minutes I’ll be speaking that somebody in the United States will die of a drug overdose, and it is almost a 72 percent chance that during those five minutes, it will be fentanyl-related,” the singer, whose real name is Jason DeFord, said at the Senate’s Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee.

The Grammy-nominated musician has been open about his struggles with addiction and mental health. His journey was the focus of the 2023 Hulu documentary “Jelly Roll: Save Me.”

DeFord talked about his past as a drug dealer and said he wants to “be a part of the solution.”

“I brought my community down. I hurt people,” he said. “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, mixing every drug on the market with fentanyl, and they’re killing the people we love.”

Jason DeFord, who performs as "Jelly Roll," testifies before a Senate committee on Jan. 11, 2024.
Jason DeFord, who performs as “Jelly Roll,” testifies before a Senate committee on Jan. 11, 2024.Kent Nishimura / Getty Images

During the hearing, DeFord talked about the people he has lost to drug addiction.

“I’ve attended more funerals than I care to share with y’all,” he said. “I could sit here and cry for days about the caskets I’ve carried of people I love dearly, deeply in my soul. Good people, not just drug addicts. Uncles, friends, cousins, normal people.”

He urged the Senate to pass the FEND Off Fentanyl Act, a “sanctions and anti-money laundering bill to help combat the country’s fentanyl crisis by targeting opioid traffickers devastating America’s communities,” according to a description on the committee’s website.

Jelly Roll and Wynonna Judd perform at the 57th Annual CMA Awards
Jelly Roll and Wynonna Judd perform at the 2023 CMA Awards.Frank Micelotta / ABC via Getty Images

“The bill will enhance current law so U.S. government agencies can more effectively disrupt illicit opioid supply chains and penalize those facilitating the trafficking of fentanyl,” the description says. “The bill also ensures that sanctions are imposed not only on the illicit drug trade, but also on the money laundering that makes it profitable.”

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