Gov. Greg Abbott has signed four new laws to address fentanyl abuse in Texas. These signings come after Abbott declared fighting the fentanyl crisis an emergency item for the 88th Legislative Session.

“Today, I am signing four new laws that will forever change Texas,” Abbott said. “Fentanyl is an epidemic that has taken too many lives.”

House Bill 3908 by State Rep. Terry Wilson (R-Georgetown), will mandate that students in grades 6-12 in government schools be educated about the dangers of fentanyl.

House Bill 6 by State Rep. Craig Goldman (R-Fort Worth) will classify fentanyl deaths as murder for the purposes of prosecution.

House Bill 3104 by State Rep. John Lujan (R-San Antonio) designates October as fentanyl poisoning awareness month.

Senate Bill 867 by State Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas) provides public universities in Texas with opioid antagonists like Narcan to respond to fentanyl and opioid overdoses.

Altogether, these pieces of legislation work to combat the fentanyl deaths in Texas, which spiked 400 percent from the fiscal year 2019 to 2021. Within the last five years, foreign drug cartels and domestic dealers have saturated Texas with deadly, untraceable drugs.

Abbott highlighted that in 2022, 2,000 Texans lost their lives due to illicitly manufactured fentanyl, an opioid drug easily accessible in illegal drug markets.

“Fentanyl does not discriminate,” said Stefanie Turner, founder of Texans Against Fentanyl (TAF).  “I am honored House Bill 3908 was signed today. This information will save lives.”

In April of 2023, Abbott started the “One Pill Kills” multimedia campaign warning Texans about the fatal effects of fentanyl. In addition, the “One Pill Kills” initiative equipped first responders in 254 counties within the state with Narcan. SB 867 will now give every public university Narcan.

However, for Becky Stewart, a member of TAF, and founder of A Change for Cam, a nonprofit that advocates for fentanyl awareness, help did not arrive fast enough.

In 2020, Becky Stewart’s son Cameron purchased a pill from social media and took it. Despite having used substances laced like this before, Cameron had no clue that his capsule had lethal amounts of fentanyl. Sadly, 19-year-old Cameron Stewart died due to illicitly manufactured fentanyl. “Cameron Did not get a chance to learn from his mistake. He died from it,” said Stewart.

Stewart told Texas Scorecard, “I honestly think HB 6 classifying fentanyl deaths as murder would focus more on deterring the dealer vs. the one taking the random pills or substances. It sends a strong message to those selling substances with fentanyl in them.”

No legislation will ever bring back the lives lost. However, Stefanie Turner and Becky Stewart, both mothers of fentanyl victims,  say education and awareness is the solution and the measures passed to educate and crack down on drug dealers can only prevent other Texans from suffering the deadly consequences of fentanyl.

“If I had the knowledge and wisdom I do know, I would’ve educated my son about this potent, highly addictive, and lethal poison,” Turner said. “The key is never to use.”

“This is not a law I am singing today, this is a movement,” said Abbott, honoring the work of countless parent advocates for education.

Matthew DeLaCruz

Matthew DeLaCruz is a Cedar Park native and is a sophomore journalism and mass communications major at Abilene Christian University. Matthew is a summer writing fellow at Texas Scorecard and loves bringing relevant stories to citizens. When he is not writing, you can catch Matthew lifting weights, playing basketball and eating ice cream with his friends.