Breakout country star Jelly Roll appeared on Capitol Hill on Thursday to lobby lawmakers to pass legislation to stop the spread of fentanyl.
“Forgive me, I’m a little nervous, I’m used to having a rock & roll band behind me when I have a microphone in front of me,” Jelly Roll told the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee hearing aimed at getting the FEND Off Fentanyl Act passed. “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, somebody in the United States will die of a drug overdose.”
He continued, “At every concert I perform, I witness the heartbreaking impact of fentanyl. I see fans grappling with this tragedy in the form of music, that they seek solace in music and hope that their experiences won’t befall others. These people crave reassurance that their elected officials actually care more about human life than they do about ideology and partisanship.”
The rapper-turned-Grammy-nominated singer born Jason DeFord has long been open about his past struggles with drugs, including time behind bars for aggravated robbery and possession with intent to sell. He’s since focused his efforts on helping young people in similar situations from making the same mistake. “I’m going to build halfway houses and transitional centers — that’s my real heart,” Jelly Roll told the New York Times.
“I think it’s important for me to tell you all that I’m not here to defend the use of illegal drugs, and I also understand the paradox of my history as a drug dealer standing in front of this committee,” Jelly Roll said at the hearing. “But equally, I think that’s what makes me perfect to talk about this. I was a part of the problem. I am here now, standing as a man that wants to be a part of the solution.”
He continued, “I stand here as a regular member of society. I am a stupid songwriter, y’all, but I have firsthand witnessed this in a way most people have not. I encourage you all to not only pass this bill, but I encourage you to bring it up where it matters, at the kitchen table.”
The bipartisan FEND Off Fentanyl Act — which targets those trafficking the deadly opioids into America — passed in the Senate in July 2023 but has not yet cleared the House. “FEND Off Fentanyl Act is a sanctions and anti-money laundering bill to help combat the country’s fentanyl crisis by targeting opioid traffickers devastating America’s communities,” the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee previously stated.
“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 bill also ensures that sanctions are imposed not only on the illicit drug trade, but also on the money laundering that makes it profitable.”
Jelly Roll was invited to speak to lawmakers on behalf of two of the bill’s supporters, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) of Ohio and Tim Scott (R) of South Carolina. “Thank you to the Chairman Senator Brown and Senator Scott for allowing me to speak on behalf of the broken in todays hearing,” Jelly Roll later posted on Instagram. “I pray this message is the beginning of a real change and awareness when it comes to Fentanyl and Drug Addiction in America.”