A bill that would permanently put fentanyl-related substances in schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act was blocked on Wednesday by 220 House Democrats who voted against considering the legislation that would have given the government more power to crack down on the criminal enterprises profiting off of lethal fentanyl-related drugs.
The legislation, embedded below, is fairly straightforward in its goal of classifying drugs that are similar to fentanyl — but have been chemically modified to avoid being identical — in the same schedule as the deadly drug that is the basis of any those analogues.
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration's info sheet on such drugs, "Synthetic opioids, especially those substances related in chemical structure to fentanyl, a potent opioid analgesic with approved medical use, have resulted in an unprecedented number of overdoses in the United States."
It's impossible at this point to argue that fentanyl and its analogues are anything but a national crisis, as Biden's own DEA commissioner has warned the drugs are killing Americans "at rates never seen before." Even worse, recent reworking of fentanyl and such drugs' appearance — so-called "rainbow fentanyl" — has taken place to make them appear similar to candy for targeting to children. Ahead of Halloween, new warnings are being issued that the rainbow fentanyl or other lethal variants of the drug may find their way into trick-or-treater's candy hauls.
Still, Democrats defeated the GOP-authored bill to permanently put fentanyl-related drugs in schedule I, something that needs to be done soon if the drugs are going to remain criminalized.
After acetyl fentanyl hit the streets in the United States, the DEA added it to schedule I. Then, between 2015 and 2018, the DEA "temporarily controlled" an additional 17 substances that were "structurally related to fentanyl" in schedule I. But the temporary control for those fentanyl analogues is currently set to expire on December 31.
Speaking on the House floor in support of the legislation, Rep, Morgan Griffith (R-VA) explained the need for a bill like the HALT Fentanyl Act which "aims to curb overdose deaths by permanently scheduling fentanyl analogues as schedule I substances. This will strengthen law enforcement's ability to prosecute fentanyl traffickers and act as a deterrent," Griffith reasoned. "The HALT Fentanyl Act also promotes research by removing barriers to that research" that's needed for "as many as 4,800 analogues" to fentanyl. "Our experts at the NIH, FDA, and other agencies have studied roughly 30 of these 4,800 analogues," Griffith added, underscoring the need for greater understanding of the lethal drugs.
"If this law expires," Griffith explained, "those 4,800 analogues are arguably legal...and we have to pass a law on each one of them. The HALT Fentanyl act makes it so we don't have to do that," he added.
Speaking to the deadly impact of fentanyl and its analogues, Rep. Kat Cammack (R-FL) noted that "these thousands of people lost lay bare the denial, the weakness, and the lack of compassion that this administration and my colleagues across the aisle have shown through their ambivalence towards border security, our nation's security, as literally tons of fentanyl is trucked and walked across the southern border and into our communities."
FLOOR ALERT: Fentanyl is pouring across Biden's open border & claiming American lives at rates never before seen. We need to secure the border & fully prosecute traffickers, but @HouseDemocrats blocked @HouseGOP requests to consider a bill to keep fentanyl a controlled substance. pic.twitter.com/qONsf1t89H— House Rules Republicans (@RulesReps) September 28, 2022