U.S. Reps. Bob Latta (R-OH) and Steve Chabot (R-OH) introduced the Federal Initiative to Guarantee Health by Targeting (FIGHT) Fentanyl Act last week, offering the legislative potential to give the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) the permanent power to criminalize fentanyl analog drugs.
Under the terms of the bill, the DEA would be able to criminalize the manufacturing, distribution, or possession of fentanyl-like drugs by marking them schedule I controlled substances. While the DEA has been able to do this in the past — a two-year-old designation of the drugs expired just last week — such efforts were merely temporary. This would be permanent, thus removing Congress-required extensions, like the one recently signed into force until May 6, 2021.
“According to the most recent data from the DEA, drug overdose deaths in 2017 reached the highest record in our history and were the leading cause of injury death in our country,” Latta said. “Fentanyl is 80-100 times stronger than morphine. This powerful drug is highly addictive and is being abused not just in Ohio, but in every state in our country. If we do not take action to stop the spread of fentanyl in our communities, we will continue to see thousands of Americans lose their lives for years to come.”
The lawmakers indicated that fentanyl is simply too dangerous to be let to temporary measures.
“The opioid crisis facing our nation and devastating American families is far too severe for temporary measures that are not guaranteed to be renewed or extended,” Chabot said.
Similar legislation was introduced to the Senate last year by U.S. Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Joe Manchin (D-WV).