WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) and Richard Burr (R-NC) and U.S. Representatives Bob Latta (R-OH-05) and Morgan Griffith (R-VA-09) today introduced the Halt Lethal Trafficking (HALT) Fentanyl Act. This legislation makes permanent the temporary classification of fentanyl and fentanyl analogs as Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). With fentanyl overdoses at an all-time high, making up 64 percent of total U.S. overdose deaths, its current Schedule I classification is set to expire February 18th, 2022. Cassidy delivered a speech on combatting illegal opioids earlier today on the U.S. Senate Floor.
The legislation also removes barriers that impede the ability of researchers to conduct studies on these substances and allows for exemptions if such research provides evidence that it would be beneficial for specific analogs to be classified differently than Schedule I, such as for medical purposes.
“Chinese fentanyl is fueling the overdose epidemic, flooding through our southern border with the help of the drug cartels.” said Dr. Cassidy. “Fentanyl is now the leading cause of overdose deaths in the United States. To ensure law enforcement has the tools to combat this trend, we cannot let this Schedule I classification lapse.”
“The opioid epidemic continues to touch every state and every community,” said Senator Burr. “Unfortunately during the pandemic, we’ve seen a staggering increase in drug overdose deaths, primarily caused by extremely potent and deadly fentanyl related substances. One way we can help to curb the influx of fentanyl on the illicit drug market is to deter producers in China and traffickers from Mexico from favoring these lethal products. This legislation will do just that by classifying fentanyl related substances as Schedule I, enabling law enforcement to prosecute distribution and supply chains and keeping American communities safe from this deadly drug.”
“Over the last three decades, the United States has been fighting the opioid epidemic, ranging from prescription opioids to synthetic opioids, like fentanyl,” said Representative Latta. “The havoc these substances wreak on our communities is devastating, and congressional action must be taken. I am pleased to introduce meaningful legislation alongside my colleague, Rep. Griffith, that will permanently schedule fentanyl and fentanyl related substances as Schedule I substances under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). In the United States, we lost 100,000 lives to drug overdoses deaths from April 2020 to April 2021 per the CDC, and in Ohio, 5,572 lives. We must prioritize combating this epidemic, and I invite my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join us in this fight.”
“Fentanyl and its analogues are fuels that stoke the fire of the opioid crisis devastating families across the country,” said Representative Griffith. “This bill introduced by Congressman Latta and I would recognize the danger of fentanyl related substances by permanently scheduling them while also allowing researchers to study their effects. As drug overdoses continue to claim thousands of lives each year in our country, our bill offers a way to make progress amid the tragedy of addiction.”
From April, 2020 to April, 2021, a record breaking 100,306 Americans lost their lives to drug overdoses. The surge was primary fueled by illegal fentanyl. Average monthly fentanyl seizures in 2021 are up 258 percent compared to 2018 through 2020. The synthetic opioids are largely manufactured in Mexico from raw materials supplied from China.