Washington, D.C. (April 8, 2021) – Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) is leading legislation that will continue to keep fentanyl-related substances in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. In addition, she is calling on Democrats in Congress to work with Republicans to make this move permanent.
“Make no mistake about it – we are continuing to battle the opioid crisis in our schools, homes, and communities across Eastern Washington,” said Rodgers. “For months, we have seen a deeply concerning rise in opioid usage and overdoses that many experts attribute to the ongoing pandemic. In Spokane, the seizure of this deadly drug even resulted in the hospitalization of three police officers who were exposed to it.
“Fentanyl is 50 times more potent than heroin and just a few milligrams can be lethal. If Congress doesn’t extend the fentanyl analogues ban by May 6, these extremely lethal drugs coming from China and also across our southern border will essentially become street legal.
“We need to take swift action to extend the emergency scheduling order and give law enforcement the tools they need to keep Americans safe, especially as the pandemic has made the opioid epidemic worse.”
NOTE: The largest single source of these substances are Chinese chemical companies. To crack down on China and drug traffickers smuggling fentanyl across our southern border, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) created a temporary scheduling system for fentanyl. Previously, drug traffickers could slightly change the molecules in the drug, so the formula was not considered prohibited. With this scheduling tool, the DEA changed the scheduling temporarily in order to combat all “fentanyl-related substances.”
The DEA instituted a ban on fentanyl-related substances in 2018 for two years but it was left to Congress to determine whether or not to extend the scheduling order beyond the 2020 deadline. In 2020, Congress renewed the extension to allow these substances to remain scheduled. On May 6, 2021, the extension will end. As Lead Republican on the Energy and Commerce Committee, Rodgers is asking all of her colleagues to join in again granting an extension while work is done to come to a bipartisan solution and finally schedule these chemicals permanently.
Fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances have caused a massive scourge in communities across our country. Tens of thousands are left dead from overdoses every year. Between May 2019 and May 2020, over 44,000 people lost their lives due to illicit fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances.
CLICK HERE to read the bill.