Bipartisan coalition calls for fentanyl to remain schedule I drug

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(WASHINGTON) — Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel on Wednesday were joined in a bipartisan coalition of all 56 attorneys general in calling for Congress to permanently classify fentanyl-related substances as Schedule I drugs.

“Fentanyl is a catastrophic killer that warrants a spot in the top tier of deadly drugs,” Yost said. “If this dangerous, highly addictive opioid isn’t a Schedule I drug, then why even have drug classifications?”

Schedule I drugs are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.

In the letter, Yost and Nessel urge Congress to pass S. 2701, the Federal Initiative to Guarantee Health by Targeting (FIGHT) Fentanyl Act, a bipartisan bill introduced by U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Joe Manchin (D-WV).

“I appreciate Ohio Attorney General Yost and Michigan Attorney General Nessel leading all of our country’s attorneys general in urging Congress to pass the FIGHT Fentanyl Act, my bipartisan legislation to permanently criminalize fentanyl-related substances in the United States,” Portman said. “Fentanyl knows no zip code and is devastating individuals and families all across the country. This bipartisan legislation is vital to our efforts to keep fentanyl out of our communities and I urge my colleagues in Congress listen to our attorneys general and join in supporting this common-sense legislation.”

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued a temporary scheduling order in February 2018 to schedule fentanyl-related substances, which has allowed federal law enforcement authorities to bring criminal actions against individuals who manufacture, distribute or handle fentanyl-related substances. This scheduling order is set to expire less than two months from now on Feb. 6, 2020. The FIGHT Fentanyl Act codifies DEA precedent to schedule fentanyl-related substances.

The FIGHT Fentanyl Act will ensure law enforcement agencies and courts retain the tools needed to keep those who traffic in this deadly substance off the streets.

In the most recent data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 72,000 drug-related deaths in the United States in 2017. Of those deaths, roughly 40% involved fentanyl or a fentanyl-related compound.

Attorneys general from every state, territory and the District of Columbia signed the letter.

With the support of every attorney general, the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) has chosen to endorse the legislation as one of its official policy positions. NAAG typically endorses around a dozen policies a year.

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