13 Jul House passes Rose-sponsored bill combatting fentanyl overdoses
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — A bill designed to combat one of the substances fueling the country’s overdose death rate passed the House of Representatives on Friday.
The Fentanyl Sanctions Act, sponsored by Rep. Max Rose (D-Staten Island/ South Brooklyn), would take several steps to combat the presence of synthetic opioids on the nation’s illegal drug market, including requiring sanctions on foreign organizations that provide the deadly drugs to illicit traffickers.
“Fentanyl and fentanyl-laced heroin is the leading cause of overdoses, which is why it’s critical we stop it at the source,” Rose said. “The fact is, China is the leading producer of illicit fentanyl and they need to be held accountable.”
A pamphlet published in March 2018 by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) said China supplies lower volumes of high-purity fentanyl, whereas fentanyl seizures from Mexico are higher in volume, but lower in purity.
The bill, which would become part of the annual budget bill for the Department of Defense, would also authorize new funding to law enforcement and intelligence agencies, urge President Trump to establish multilateral sanctions with allies, and establish a “Commission on Synthetic Opioid Trafficking.”
That commission would monitor U.S. efforts and report on how to more effectively combat the flow of synthetic opioids from China, Mexico and elsewhere, according to a media release from Rose’s office.
On May 1, a new Chinese policy scheduling all forms of the synthetic opioid fentanyl as illicit substances went into effect. Rose has said this legislation would help to ensure the Chinese government keeps its word.
Liu Yuejin of China’s National Narcotics Control Commission announced his country’s new policy April 1 after receiving pressure from President Donald Trump’s administration.
That announcement came after a December meeting in which Chinese President Xi Jinping promised Trump that China would classify fentanyl as a controlled substance.
Liu denied accusations, some coming directly from the President, that China has a role in the deadly synthetic opioids flooding the American market.
A version of the bill passed the Senate in June, and the two chambers will now settle differences in the bills in conference committee before it makes its way to President Donald Trump’s desk, according to the media release.
“I’m proud to see that when it comes to protecting our children and communities from deadly fentanyl, politics and partisanship are tossed by the wayside,” Rose said.
Synthetic opioids originated in the the 1960s, intended for use in the treatment of severe pain in cancer patients through time-release patches worn on the skin.
Fentanyl is 80 to 100 times stronger than morphine. A 2.5 milligram dose is all that’s needed to kill the average person, according to the DEA.
According to the bill, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that from August 2017 through August 2018, synthetic opioids contributed to a record 31,900 overdose deaths.