Freshman senator Thomas Fisher introduced his first two pieces of legislation during a press conference held this morning, part of his package of Protecting Children Against Substance Abuse or Pro CASA.
The first Pro CASA measure intends to establish strong guidelines and penalties for the distribution and handling of Fentanyl, especially around minors.
Fisher said that “now, if you are a junkie or anyone else and you leave Fentanyl and that three-year-old swirls by and ingests the Fentanyl and overdoses, you’re going to jail for life.”
According to the legislation, Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. This opioid has been called by U.S. government officials as the single deadliest drug threat the nation has encountered.
As the opioid epidemic in the U.S. continues to grow, many are afraid Guam will follow the same path.
Two weeks ago, according to Chief of Police Stephen Ignacio, there were two confirmed seizures of Fentanyl and at least two cases of Fentanyl overdose in the island.
Fisher further assured that he and the 37th Guam Legislature are not going to play around and plan to go hard against Fentanyl and opioids.
The second measure of the package referred to as the “Vape bill”, if enacted, would prohibit the sale or distribution of flavored tobacco products and the mislabeling of products as nicotine-free within the territory.
“I’m fully aware that there is a vape industry on this island. I’m fully aware that I think you can find a vape retailer in just about every single village. I’m aware that this will have a negative impact on certain businesses. I am also aware that we are not gonna monetize our children’s health,” said Fisher.
Adding, “Big tobacco, American tobacco company, the rest of them, are pitching tobacco at children. You ask any teacher on this island if they have any experience with a 5th grader coming in with vaping and you will find that they do.”
The flavors on these e-cigarettes are meant to mask the flavor and bitterness of tobacco and therefore makes it more enticing for minors than regular cigarettes.
In the past, there have been several reports of children using flavored tobacco products in Guam’s schools. As recent as the end of last year, a viral video on social media showed students vaping at Okkodo High School.
As far as alternatives for businesses that currently sell or distribute tobacco products, well if the bill were to be enacted, there aren’t any.
“You’ve got to find a different business model, you know, it’s just, it’s inconceivable that we as a society will allow our children to be poisoned. Just for money,” he stated.
Senator Fisher said that besides the introduction of these two bills, he is also working on a measure to increase the penalty for using a firearm in the commission of a felony.