U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Rob Portman (R-OH) have reintroduced a bill that would permanently schedule illicitly manufactured fentanyl.
The bill, Federal Initiative to Guarantee health by Targeting (FIGHT) Fentanyl Act, would change the temporary scheduling of fentanyl-related substances issued by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in 2018 to a permanent schedule. The scheduling of fentanyl-related substances allows federal law enforcement authorities to bring criminal actions against anyone who manufactures, distributes, or handles them.
“Every West Virginian has experienced the impacts of the drug epidemic on our family, friends, and neighbors, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only made matters worse,” Manchin said. “West Virginia has the highest overdose rate per capita of any state in our nation, and fentanyl now makes up a majority of overdose deaths. I am proud to reintroduce the bipartisan FIGHT Fentanyl Act to permanently schedule fentanyl-related substances, and I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this legislation so that we can keep fentanyl out of our communities.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), overdose deaths related to fentanyl-related substances are on the rise. Data shows that over a 12 month period from May 2019 to May 2020, there were more than 81,000 drug overdose deaths in the United States.
The Senators originally introduced the bill in 2019, in advance of the DEA’s temporary scheduling expiring in 2020. The DEA extended the temporary scheduling in April of that year. That temporary scheduling is set to expire in 2022.