Biden Fentanyl Plan ‘Too Little, Too Late’ As Opioid Overdoses Surge

BUTLER COUNTY, IOWA – Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), ranking member of the Senate
Judiciary Committee and co-chairman on the Senate Caucus on International Drug
Control, issued the following statement regarding the Biden Administration’s
proposal to control deadly fentanyl-like drugs.

 

“For months, I’ve been calling on the Biden administration to get serious about combatting fentanyl knockoffs, which
led to a record number of overdose deaths in the United States last year. The
plan, released mere weeks before a temporary scheduling authority expires, sets
us up for a rushed process that doesn’t allow for the methodical review that
this issues demands. While the plan provides some greater certainty on how
deadly fentanyl-like substances will be controlled, it appears that the Biden
Administration cares more about avoiding new penalties than holding drug
traffickers accountable for fueling an opioid epidemic that continues to
destroy families and erode communities across the country,” Grassley said.

 

Opioid overdose deaths rose 30 percent
in 2020, fueled largely by engineered substances that mimic fentanyl, an opioid
that is 100 times stronger than meth or heroin. While fentanyl is controlled
under existing law, fentanyl analogues are more difficult to identify and
control.  A temporary Drug Enforcement
Administration authority allowing fentanyl analogues to be treated as Schedule I controlled substances expires in October. That authority allows for drug offenses
to be penalized under longstanding sentencing guidelines, which include minimum
sentences for certain quantities of controlled substances.

 

The administration’s plan makes
permanent the Schedule I treatment of fentanyl analogues, but explicitly
shields them from the existing penalty structure that has historically brought
consistency to penalties for illicit drug offenses. Under the plan, penalties
for fentanyl analogue offenses could be far more lenient than in previous
years, and sentenced markedly differently than other dangerous drugs at a time
when overdoses are surging. Rather than curbing trafficking of fentanyl
analogues, such a policy could have the opposite effect: encouraging the use of
fentanyl analogues over other, less-deadly substances that carry steeper
penalties.

 

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