Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman: “We have to do this for our communities, for our kids, and for Bruce.” Sen Murkowski introduces Bruce’s Law to Help Combat Deadly Fentanyl Epidemic

Out of the ashes of devastation, Anchorage mother Sandy Snodgrass has worked tirelessly to raise awareness about the lethality of fentanyl, the drug responsible for her son Bruce’s overdose and death last year. On June 8, Snodgrass watched from the US Senate gallery as Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski and Dianne Feinstein of California, introduced Bruce’s Law to the US Senate floor for consideration. The senators were joined by Senators Dan Sullivan, also of Alaska, and Maggie Hassan from New Hampshire, to present the bipartisan bill.


Bruce’s Law – named after Alaskan, Robert “Bruce” Snodgrass, who passed away from a fentanyl overdose in 2021 – would support federal prevention and education efforts surrounding the dangers of drugs laced with fentanyl, a deadly synthetic opioid that been responsible for a recent spike in overdoses and deaths here in Mat-Su, and all across the US.


“We cannot stand idly by and allow the fentanyl epidemic to wreak havoc on individuals, families, and communities across our state,” Senator Murkowski said.


“The passing of Bruce Snodgrass was heartbreaking and all too familiar. I continue to read headline after headline in our local press – and directly from Alaskans who are impacted – about the fentanyl crisis intensifying. This is a national crisis, and we need to do more. We have an opportunity to help change that through this legislation,” she said. Senator Murkowski went on to thank Sandy Snodgrass and others who have advocated for Bruce’s Law before urging her colleagues in the Senate to pass the bill.


In a press release, Sandy Snodgrass asked all members of Congress to stand with Senator Murkowski, Senator Feinstein, Senator Sullivan and Senator Hassan in support of Bruce’s Law: “Join us in raising awareness and providing education to as many Americans as we can reach, as quickly as we can reach them. Time is not on our side!”


Other components of the bill would authorizes new Community-Based Coalition Enhancement grants to help educate young people about the dangers associated with substances laced with fentanyl. This would allow Drug-Free Communities Coalitions to access new funding focused on fentanyl to try to curtail its use.


Bruce’s Law also allows for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to form a Federal Interagency Working Group on Fentanyl Contamination of illegal drugs that would work with experts, including family members, youth, and people working toward recovery, to help develop opportunities to improve responses to the incidence of drug overdose by fentanyl-contaminated drugs.


“This is a starting point, and we have to start because we have such a serious problem on our hands. We know we have it in Anchorage, where Bruce Snodgrass likely never knew he was taking a drug laced with fentanyl,” Murkowski told the Senate as she spoke about Bruce’s law. She also told members that the notifying officer to Snodgrass had just come from giving the same grim news of another death caused by another overdose.


Bruce’s Law has also received support from local advocate and Chairman of the Mat-Su Opioid Task Force, Michael Carson, who strongly urged passage of the bill, stating in the press release: “I am in full support of Bruce’s Law to saves lives. We have to cut the flow off into the river of addiction and overdoses. We cannot wait any longer,”


Another advocate of education and stronger laws regarding fentanyl is Julie Bouchard, who shares the tragic bond with Snodgrass as her son Taegge Lee passed away from an overdose caused by fentanyl.


“With tears in my eyes and pleading in my heart I am begging you to do everything within your power to put a stop to this senseless murder of our American children. I fully support the education and resources that Bruce’s Law will bring to our young Americans,” she wrote.


Fentanyl is powerful, synthetic drug that has been found in other substances from heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine, to counterfeit pills. Officials continue to warn everyone that fentanyl is everywhere.


According the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, fentanyl accounted for approximately 49% of all drug overdoses in the state in 2020. The Mat-Su Valley has been particularly hit hard by this epidemic. Back in mid-March, a lethal batch of heroin laced with fentanyl caused 7 deaths and 17 overdose emergencies in the Mat-Su that are known.


As Senator Murkowski concluded her remarks, she paused to thank Snodgrass before acknowledging that it is going to take “all of us doing a lot more than we’re doing now,” to raise awareness about fentanyl to work to turn the tide.


“We have to do this for our communities, for our kids, and for Bruce.”

By:  Katie Stavick
Source: Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman