Why he wants new legislation after fentanyl worth nearly $500,000 seized from Chesterfield home

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Posted at 4:13 PM, Feb 17, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-20 09:25:26-05

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- A 45-year-old man was arrested after Virginia State Police seized fentanyl powder valued at nearly $500,000 from his North Chesterfield home.

Anthony M. Pollard was charged with one felony count of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance and one felony count of transporting a controlled substance into Virginia, according to officials with Virginia State Police.

"The state police investigation led to investigators seizing approximately 3,000 grams of fentanyl in powder form at Pollard's residence," officials said. "The seizure has an estimated street value of $492,000."

In a speech on the House floor Monday, Republican Delegate Michael Cherry (R - Chesterfield) criticized House Democrats for striking down bills related to criminal penalties for fentanyl dealers. One piece of legislation, that wasn't originally going to be given a hearing after passing the Senate, was Senator Mark Obenshain’s bill (SB 469) that would make it a Class 6 Felony for any person to possess a pill press with the intent to distribute adulterated or misbranded drugs.

"Today in Chesterfield County, we're hearing reports of a major drug bust, a fentanyl dealer manufacturer had over six pounds of fentanyl. We learned earlier in this session that one gram of fentanyl can kill up to 500 people,” Cherry said.

The seizure comes on the heels of 66,000 fentanyl pills being seized from a Manassas, Virginia home earlier this month.

The news is especially difficult for Chesterfield mother and substance abuse advocate Karleen Wolanin.

"My daughter, for 8 years, has struggled with mental health and substance and on Christmas night, I almost lost her to fentanyl,” Wolanin said.

Wolanin has since started a non-profit organization called Virginia Fentanyl and Substance Awareness, and is rallying behind lawmakers sponsoring legislation to help curb the opioid and fentanyl crisis.

"It's just because I'm not being quiet. I know that this is really serious. It's hit my home and it's hit so many people's homes,” Wolanin said.

Wolanin has helped draft two pieces of legislation that have bipartisan support. One is a parental notification bill that requires schools to notify other parents when an overdose has occurred on school property. The other directs the Department of Education to develop age-appropriate teaching material to spread awareness to students about the dangers of drugs, including fentanyl.

She said support from both parties is necessary to help save lives.

"This is no longer about one side or the other side,” Wolanin said. “This is about coming together because at the end of the day, they have children and families too, we all do. We have to kinda let go of this political stuff sometimes and we need to get down to who's important right now and that's our families. The next generation and it's going to take us all coming together."

Meanwhile, the bill Delegate Cherry raised concerns about, one that carries penalties for people having pill presses, will now be heard by the House Courts: Criminal Subcommittee on Wednesday.

By the end of Monday, the House Courts: Criminal Subcommittee, which initially said Obenshain’s bill wouldn't get a hearing, said it now would.

However, Delegate Vivian Watts, (D - Fairfax) pushed back on Cherry's characterization of why it wasn't heard initially.

“The minority party has an X amount of money to decide which bills they think are most important, and the majority party has a certain portion of money to decide which bills are most important and then we hear those bills,” Watts said.

“That’s the way the process works as we try to be fair to all in the system as we consider these most crucial issues, and certainly the issue of fentanyl is one of the most crucial issues.”

This is a developing story, so anyone with more information can email to send a tip.



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