SEN. GRASSLEY: America is facing a drug crisis

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We’re facing a drug crisis.

The CDC reported that over 100,000 Americans died from a drug overdose over a recent 12 month period.

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Although fentanyl drugs are heavily responsible for this, we’re battling on multiple fronts. For instance, synthetic drug use is evolving and dangerous. Methamphetamine is on the rise.

Too many lives have been lost. That’s why I’ve been busy working on legislation to stop this epidemic.

Like the Stop the Importation and Manufacturing of Synthetic Analogues Act of 2021, better known as SIMSA.

For too long, criminals have been skirting the law by changing the chemical makeup of a drug. This creates a deadly game of ‘whack-a-mole’ as law enforcement tries to keep pace with savvy drug dealers. My bipartisan bill nips this deadly cycle in the bud.

It would control synthetic substances similar to known drugs while the more time-consuming testing, research and analysis can be performed.

Also, methamphetamine use is concerning. The volume and purity of meth smuggled from Mexico into the U.S. is near all-time highs.

To address this dire issue, I joined Senator Feinstein to re-introduce the Methamphetamine Response Act. This bill declares meth an emerging threat and requires the Office of National Drug Control Policy to develop and implement, a national plan to prevent meth addiction and overdoses.

This is a necessary step to combat meth in Iowa and the rest of the country.

The Senate passed the Meth Response Act this week. The House must act quickly to get this bill to President Biden’s desk. Meth is rampant and action cannot be delayed.

I also joined with Senator Feinstein to re-introduce a cannabidiol and marijuana research bill to encourage scientific and medical research on marijuana.

Instead of rushing into legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana, we need a better understanding of the plant and its potential benefits and side effects. Let’s not put the cart before the horse.

I’ve also been active as Co-Chairman of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control. Along with Senator Whitehouse, we held hearings examining the federal response to the drug overdose epidemic, and the nexus between the illicit drug trade and corruption.

I also convened a field hearing in Iowa to hear from experts and constituents about the state’s efforts on drug control, prevention and treatment efforts.

At that hearing, Rod Courtney, from North Liberty, Iowa shared his story of losing his son, Chad, five years ago due to fentanyl. Rod’s powerful testimony is one instance of the struggles families face from drug abuse.

Stories like Chad’s are why I’ve sent multiple letters to the Biden administration to proactively and permanently schedule fentanyl-related substances.

I’m glad to see the Biden administration has taken my advice and recommended the permanent scheduling of fentanyl drugs.

Yet, the administration proposes shielding fentanyl dealers from mandatory minimums.

This watered-down position flies in the face of our current crisis.

We have to keep our neighborhoods safe and must hold poison peddlers accountable. That’s particularly true for fentanyl offenders.

I’m happy to say that, with my support, Congress has extended the life-saving scheduling authority to February. But don’t be fooled; we still need a permanent solution.

With the close of 2021 on the horizon, it’s natural to reflect. 100,000 overdose deaths is unspeakably tragic. Each loss is a loved one, a friend, a neighbor.

We must find solutions to the crisis. I look forward to being part of that solution. I hope my colleagues will join me in moving these bills forward.

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