Jelly Roll addressed lawmakers last week to deliver testimony about the fentanyl crisis, attending a Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hearing in Washington, D.C. to urge members of Congress to support anti-fentanyl legislation. The 39-year-old Jelly Roll (born Jason DeFord), has been open about his previous criminal charges, jail time and struggles with addiction. He encouraged officials to pass the FEND Off Fentanyl Act (Fentanyl Eradication and Narcotics Deterrence (FEND) Off Fentanyl Act), targeting the China-Mexico illicit fentanyl supply chain.
Ranking Member Tim Scott (R-S.C.) noted in his opening statement that it’s “so important for Americans to come together around such an important issue.” U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, said in his opening statement: “I’m guessing most of you didn’t have ‘Jelly Roll testifies at Senate Banking hearin’” on your 2024 bingo cards. But few speak – and sing – as eloquently, as openly, as, shall we say, viscerally about addiction as he does. There is a reason why Americans flock to his music and his concerts. He has a connection with people based on shared pain, shared challenges, shared hope.”
Jelly Roll thanked Brown and Scott for the opportunity to speak, posting a video on Instagram of his testimony with the caption: “I pray this message is the beginning of a real change and awareness when it comes to Fentanyl and Drug Addiction in America.” Jelly said in his testimony: “During the time that 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, somebody in the United States will die of a drug overdose. And it is almost a 72% chance that during those five minutes, it will be fentanyl-related.” He noted during his testimony that he is “neither Democrat, nor Republican. In fact, because of my past, my right to vote has been restricted, (so) I have never paid attention to a political race in my life. Ironically, I think that makes me the perfect person to speak about this because fentanyl transcends partisanship and ideology, gentlemen and women … I’ve attended more funerals than I care to share with y’all. 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. Some people that just got in a car wreck and started taking a pain pill to manage it. One thing led to the other. How fast it spirals out of control, I don’t think people truly, truly understand.
Jelly Roll also spoke about his history as a drug dealer, saying he was the “perfect” person to talk about the fentanyl crisis: “I was a part of the problem. I am here now standing as a man that wants to be a part of the solution. 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 going right now when they are mixing every drug on the market with fentanyl, and they’re killing the people we love … It’s time for us to be proactive and not reactive…If we don’t talk to the other side of Capitol Hill and stop the demand, we are gonna spin our tires in the mud. Y’all are taking the first step, but I encourage you to take it outside of this room. Take it to your colleagues and your constituents, and you give them the most that you can.”
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