Washington Post Editorial Board Highlights Urgent Need to Pass Legislation to Permanently Ban Fentanyl

January 6, 2020 | Portman Difference

In an editorial titled “Congress Should Act to Allow a Ban on Fentanyl Indefinitely” the Washington Post editorial board called for passage of legislation that would allow the Drug Enforcement Agency to permanently enforce a ban on fentanyl-related substances that is due to expire on February 6, 2020. Senator Portman has bipartisan legislation to do just that.

Last year, Senator Portman (R-OH) introduced the bipartisan Federal Initiative to Guarantee Health by Targeting (FIGHT) Fentanyl Act, which will permanently schedule illicitly manufactured and deadly fentanyl. In February 2018, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued a temporary scheduling order to schedule fentanyl-related substances that has allowed federal law enforcement authorities to bring criminal actions against individuals who manufacture, distribute, or handle fentanyl-related substances. This scheduling order is set to expire on February 6, 2020. The FIGHT Fentanyl Act codifies DEA precedent to permanently schedule fentanyl-related substances. The legislation has been endorsed by all of the state and territorial Attorneys General, including Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost. Portman is working to pass this legislation soon.

The Washington Post editorial states: “Fentanyl is a powerful opioid analgesic with great medical benefits for those suffering from cancer pain — and great potential for improper and illicit use. That potential had fortunately gone mostly unrealized in the United States before 2013, at which point drug users discovered fentanyl as an alternative to heroin and other prescription opioids, and the number of deaths from synthetic opioid (primarily fentanyl) overdose skyrocketed, according to government data, reaching 28,466 by 2017 — or nearly half of all opioid-related deaths that year... In February 2018, the Drug Enforcement Administration addressed this issue by invoking special emergency authorities to impose a “class-wide” ban on any and all fentanyl analogues. But this ban expires Feb. 6… Congress should enact the bill before that.”

Excerpts of the editorial can be found below and the full editorial can be found here.

Congress Should Act to Allow a Ban on Fentanyl Indefinitely

Washington Post

Editorial Board

January 5, 2020

Fentanyl a powerful opioid analgesic with great medical benefits for those suffering from cancer pain — and great potential for improper and illicit use. That potential had fortunately gone mostly unrealized in the United States before 2013, at which point drug users discovered fentanyl as an alternative to heroin and other prescription opioids, and the number of deaths from synthetic opioid (primarily fentanyl) overdose skyrocketed, according to government data, reaching 28,466 by 2017 — or nearly half of all opioid-related deaths that year.

In February 2018, the Drug Enforcement Administration addressed this issue by invoking special emergency authorities to impose a “class-wide” ban on any and all fentanyl analogues. But this ban expires Feb. 6.

For months, the Justice Department, with the support of 52 state and territory attorneys general (including those of Maryland, Virginia and the District), has been asking Congress to enact a law empowering the DEA on its own to keep the ban on fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances indefinitely. An effort to include the measure in the must-pass year-end spending bill failed, however, so there are only a few weeks left to avoid a reversion to the previous legal status quo. Congress should enact the bill before that.

[F]entanyl is not only a demand-side problem of illicit and harmful use but also a supply-side problem of large-scale but elusive trafficking networks based abroad. There is little evidence that the Justice Department plans to target individual users rather than traffickers, and strong reason to believe that Congress should give it adequate legal and logistical tools to curb the flow of this deadly drug.

 

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