A new bill introduced by U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) last week, the Stopping Illicit Fentanyl Trafficking Act, seeks to permanently schedule all illicit fentanyl and remove concerns surrounding the pending expiration of a temporary Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) effort.
“One of the unfortunate consequences of the pandemic and subsequent shutdowns across the country has been a major spike in substance abuse and overdose deaths in Missouri,” Luetkemeyer said. “While mental health and substance abuse services are now available again to anyone who needs them, America is now facing another problem: a spike in overdose deaths due to a major increase in illicit fentanyl coming across our border.”
The bill’s main effect would be to counteract the expiring temporary codification of illicit fentanyl by the DEA, set to expire in May. Fentanyl and its analogues would be able to be scheduled or de-scheduled by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Attorney General, and the Department of Justice.
It comes at a time when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently noted that 1,000 drug overdose deaths occurred in the U.S. over the 12 month period ending in May 2020. It marked the highest ever number of overdose deaths recorded over the course of a year, with synthetic opioids, such as illicit fentanyl, acting as the primary driver. In the first five months of fiscal year 2021 alone, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has also seized nearly 5,000 pounds of fentanyl.
Luetkemeyer’s bill has the backing of the Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys and the Missouri Police Chiefs Association. At the national level, it has also gained the support of the National District Attorneys Association.