On Tuesday, Congressman Morgan Griffith (R-VA) and Congressman Bob Latta (R-OH) introduced the Halt All Lethal Trafficking of (HALT) Fentanyl Act. Currently, fentanyl and fentanyl analogues temporarily fall under Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) due to a temporary scheduling order that runs through Dec. 31, 2024. Due to the increase in overdose deaths related to fentanyl and fentanyl analogues, this bill will address the permanent scheduling of fentanyl analogues in the Schedule I category, as well as grant researchers the ability to conduct studies on these substances. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) is also an original co-sponsor.
The HALT Fentanyl Act closely tracks recommendations to Congress submitted by the Office of National Drug Control Policy in September 2021. It would permanently place fentanyl analogues into Schedule I of the CSA, simplify registration processes for certain research with Schedule I substances, removing barriers that currently impede such work, and provide for exemption of individual analogues from Schedule I when evidence demonstrates it is appropriate.
“The opioid crisis continues to devastate families in Virginia and across the country, made worse by fentanyl and its analogues,” said Griffith. “This bill introduced by Congressman Latta and I would recognize the danger of fentanyl analogues by permanently scheduling them, while also allowing researchers to study their effects. As drug overdose deaths reach historic levels in our country, our bill offers a way to make progress amid the tragedy of addiction.”
“Our nation continues to battle a devastating overdose crisis – the vast majority attributed to illicit fentanyl – which has claimed thousands upon thousands of American lives each year. This epidemic has wreaked havoc on our communities and destroyed far too many families,” said Latta. “It’s time to take swift and decisive action to rid our streets and communities of this dangerous drug, which is why I’m proud to co-lead the HALT Fentanyl Act with my colleague, Congressman Griffith, in Congress. This bill is an important step in the effort to curb this deadly crisis and help save precious lives.”
“Hundreds of thousands of American families have been devastated by the fentanyl crisis, which was the leading cause of death for Americans aged 18-49 in 2021. Just this month, Energy and Commerce Republicans heard powerful testimony from Deb and Ray Cullen, parents who tragically lost their 23-year-old son, Zach, to an illicit fentanyl poisoning nine days after his birthday when a drug dealer targeted him and his friends,” said Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Rodgers. “Passing the HALT Fentanyl Act to permanently schedule fentanyl related substances and keep these lethal substances out of our communities is one of the committee’s top priorities, and I commend Reps. Griffith and Latta for their tireless leadership on this effort.”
Fentanyl and fentanyl analogues continue to flood over our southern border. In FY 2023 alone, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has seized over 9,000 pounds of fentanyl coming across the southern border, enough to kill over 2.1 billion people, or over 6.4 times the U.S. population. Fentanyl is up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. Just a few milligrams, an amount small enough to fit inside the ear of Lincoln on a penny, can be lethal.