With overdoses at record highs, we must crack down on fentanyl-related substances
Saddened by the overdose epidemic that is worsening across the country and crippling communities like mine, I recently spoke in the House to raise awareness and urge Congress to take much needed action as synthetic opioid deaths continue to skyrocket. In a community that I represent, Pasco County, 193 people have died of overdoses since January. The vast majority of these cases involved fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances. I have also received hundreds of heartbreaking stories from constituents whose families have been devastated by drug addiction. A constituent, MaryAnne, wrote to me: âI lost my adult son in June 2021 due to a fentanyl overdose. The system has failed me in every way. With borders open, enough fentanyl has made it to our country’s southern border to kill 70% of our population. My son is unfortunately part of these statistics. âParents like MaryAnne are the faces of the fentanyl crisis. Unfortunately, stories like MaryAnne’s have become all too common. Between April 2020 and April 2021, the CDC reports that over 100,000 Americans have died of fentanyl overdose. The tragedies these families have endured are the reason we must fight.
The first step is to secure our border. The majority of all fentanyl-related substances in the United States are now smuggled across the southwest border. During fiscal year 2021, CBP seized 11,201 pounds of fentanyl, a historic rate higher than anything entered in fiscal 2018 and 2019 combined. This is equivalent to enough fentanyl to cause 2,540,341,996 deaths. Americans can no longer afford this administration to ignore the deepening crisis along our southern border. This should not be a partisan issue, but rather an urgent matter of public health and national security. Congress must take swift action to implement enhanced security measures to address a variety of security concerns, including stopping the free flow of fentanyl that claims so many American victims.
We must also hold China accountable for its continued role in this crisis. The US Department of Justice said in September that Mexican drug networks mass-produce illicit fentanyl and fake pills containing fentanyl, using chemicals largely from China, and distributing these pills through US criminal networks. These fake pills are designed to appear almost identical to legitimate prescriptions such as OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin, Adderall, Xanax, and other drugs. Criminal drug networks sell these pills through social media, e-commerce, the dark web, and existing distribution networks. As a result, these deadly fake pills are widely available.
If we’ve learned anything from the pandemic, it’s that we should be very skeptical of China. We can no longer allow the Chinese Communist Party to turn a blind eye and allow the chemical components of fentanyl to be made in China, only to be shipped to Mexican cartels that mass produce fentanyl and smuggle it into our country. . The Trump administration has been very tough on China and border security. But since then, we have witnessed a relaxation of those policies and the resulting general melee that has invaded our border. As a result, we are seeing an increase in trafficking, subsequent overdoses in communities like mine and a record number of deaths. We must crack down on China and force it to take a leadership role in consistently enforcing policies that keep these deadly drugs from ending up on our streets.
We also need to permanently list fentanyl-related substances in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act and give law enforcement the tools they need to seize these deadly substances as soon as they are found and thus keep them off our streets. To achieve this goal, I support the STOP the fentanyl law written by my colleagues, Reps Bob Latta (R-Ohio) and Morgan griffithHoward (Morgan) Morgan Griffith Proposed Virginia Maps put House Democrats at risk of rising stars GOP lawmakers ask social media giants for data on impacts on children’s mental health Lawmakers lobby agencies federal authorities on the scope of the SolarWinds PLUS attack (R-Va.), Which will permanently label fentanyl as a Schedule I substance. It also simplifies the registration process for some Schedule I substances to ensure that researchers have the opportunity to conduct studies on these substances. The class-wide emergency programming order for fentanyl-related substances is due to expire on February 18, 2022. There will likely be fatal consequences if Congress allows this order to expire or continue to give. a kick to the box with temporary extensions. It’s time to act!
Gus Bilirakis represents the 12th district of Florida.