Dear Chairmen Durbin and Nadler and Ranking Members Grassley and Jordan,
I am writing on behalf of the members of the Fraternal Order of Police once again to urge Congress to pass legislation that would permanently place fentanyl-related substances in Schedule I.
At this writing, we understand that yet another temporary extension has been included in H.R. 6617, the third continuing resolution, which the House will consider this week. This ridiculous “kick-the-can” approach to such a serious public safety and public health issue is irresponsible and dangerous. There has been little to no opposition to date on temporary extensions, so why has Congress not come together in a bipartisan way to pass a permanent solution?
Drug overdose deaths have continued to surge across the United States, in large part, due to synthetic opioids. This has primarily been due to fentanyl and fentanyl analogues. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has determined that approximately 100,000 Americans have died as a result of an overdose since April 2021. The vast majority of these deaths, more than 75,000, have come from opioids such as fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances. This is nearly a 35% increase from the same period in 2020. In this recent report, the CDC also mentioned that most of these overdose deaths have been connected to illicitly manufactured fentanyl. The manufacturing and trafficking of these drugs have been conducted by transnational organized criminal groups.
In 2018, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) temporarily classified fentanyl-related substances as Schedule I under the Controlled Substances Act. This emergency scheduling order placed these substances based on their chemical structure and designated them as purely illicit drugs with a high potential for abuse and no reasonable medical purpose. This order has been previously extended three times by lawmakers, but without action from Congress, it will expire on 18 February 2022, or 11 March if the continuing resolution is adopted. The Fraternal Order of Police strongly recommends an immediate permanent extension to ensure that illicit fentanyl and any analogues remain on Schedule I. Without granting the DEA the authority to permanently classify fentanyl analogues as they become available, our communities and American lives are in jeopardy.
On behalf of the more than 364,000 members of the Fraternal Order of Police, I urge Congress to act and address the growing illicit fentanyl overdose epidemic that has gripped this country by making the DEA’s scheduling order permanent. If I can provide any additional information on this issue, please do not hesitate to contact me or Executive Director Jim Pasco in our Washington, D.C. office.