We are on the front lines of a battle against this drug, taking innocent lives, and tearing families apart. Fentanyl poisoning is now the number one cause of death for people 18-49 in the United States. In Washington state, overdose deaths have increased by more than 108 percent since 2019, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Eastern Washington is no different. In fact, Spokane was named one of eleven crisis spots for fentanyl by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). Tragically, one of Spokane’s very own, Molly Cain, lost her son Carson to this deadly poison. She asked me how many more letters from grieving parents it is going to take for action. The fact is it shouldn’t take another letter or another day or another lost loved one.
This is a call to action, which is why I’ve been working hard in Congress to help solve this crisis. I helped pass the HALT Fentanyl Act – legislation I led through the House Energy and Commerce Committee – with strong bipartisan support. This legislation will permanently schedule fentanyl related substances under Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act and ensure law enforcement has the tools they need to keep these extremely lethal and dangerous drugs off the streets of Eastern Washington. But this bill is just the start. To save more lives, we must continue to build on this progress.
That’s why I hosted a roundtable at the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office this week to discuss the ongoing fentanyl crisis and the impact it’s having on communities across the region. I was joined by Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward, local law enforcement agencies, community and tribal leaders working to combat the crisis, and family advocates who have been devastatingly impacted by fentanyl.
Our conversation was an insightful one. Deputy Chief Patrol Agent Jeffrey Diniseof theUnited States Border Patrol talked about how these substances are being smuggled across the southern border, through Arizona and California, and into Eastern Washington.
Traci Couture with the Spokane Alliance for Fentanyl Education (S.A.F.E.) discussed the steps that need to be taken to improve recovery efforts.
Spokane Police Chief Craig Meidl explained the urgency of getting this crisis under control after his department took 40,000 fentanyl pills off the streets in a single bust last year.
Every person at the table had a story to tell, and it confirmed that it’s going to take all of us working together to turn the tide on this crisis. I’m incredibly grateful for all who joined to contribute to the discussion, especially for Molly and Debi who are using their heartbreak as a force for change. Thank you to each one of you for stepping up and voicing ways we can come together to help bring an end to this crisis for once and for all.
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