Jelly Roll Urges Congress to Act on Fentanyl Legislation in Powerful Speech


Nashville native and country-rock sensation Jelly Roll, also known as Jason DeFord, brought his powerful voice to Capitol Hill, testifying before the United States Senate’s Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs on Thursday. The two-time Grammy nominee and CMT Awards-winner used his platform to advocate for legislative action against the deadly use of fentanyl in America.

The artist, who recently claimed the New Artist of the Year award at the 2023 CMA Awards, addressed the Senate committee during a hearing on “Stopping the Flow of Fentanyl: Public Awareness and Legislative Solutions.” Jelly Roll’s emotional speech focused on the devastating impact of fentanyl, urging legislators to establish a bill to combat the supply and distribution of the synthetic opioid in the United States.

“I witness the heartbreaking impact of fentanyl at every concert I perform,” Jelly Roll expressed passionately. “These are the people I’m here to speak for, y’all. These people crave reassurance that their elected officials actually care more about human life than they do about ideology and partisanship.”

The 39-year-old artist, candid about his past run-ins with the law, including multiple arrests and serving jail time for drug charges and aggravated robbery, emphasized that he is neither emocrat nor Republican. Due to his felony conviction, Jelly Roll’s right to vote has been restricted. Despite his non-political stance, he found himself standing before Congress as an advocate for change.

Jelly Roll spoke at a hearing of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee at the U.S. Capitol.

DeFord, well-informed about the alarming statistics surrounding the fentanyl epidemic, highlighted that 190 people die from drug overdoses daily in the U.S., with 72% of them being fentanyl-related. He acknowledged his own history as a drug dealer and admitted to being part of the problem. But he has also emphasized his transformation into a man who now strives to be a part of the solution.

“I’ve attended more funerals than I care to share with you all on this committee,” Jelly Roll revealed. “I could sit here and cry for days about the caskets I’ve carried of people I loved dearly – good people, not just drug addicts. One thing led to the other, and how fast it spirals out of control – I don’t think people truly, truly understand.”

The fentanyl crisis hits close to home for the musician, as his 15-year-old daughter Bailee Ann’s biological mother battles drug addiction. Urging Congress to address the demand side of the issue, Jelly Roll emphasized the need for legislation, specifically mentioning the Fentanyl Eradication and Narcotics Deterrence (FEND) Off Fentanyl Act.

If enacted, the FEND Off Fentanyl Act would instruct the Treasury Department to impose sanctions and freeze the financial assets of global criminal enterprises associated with opioid trafficking. The artist concluded his testimony by encouraging legislators not only to pass the bill but to also bring the discussion to where it matters the most – at the kitchen table.

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