The House on Thursday approved a bill that would classify all fentanyl as a Schedule 1 substance, the most dangerous classification of drugs. The GOP-led legislation, backed by the White House, passed the House 289-133.
The classification of all fentanyl substances as a Schedule 1 drug — currently, only some fentanyl-related substances are Schedule 1 — will allow for tougher penalties and spur more research related to a drug that has claimed thousands of American lives. Schedule 1 drugs do not have any medical use, and are highly lethal. Rep. Morgan Griffith, a Republican from Virginia, and Rep. Bob Latta, an Ohio Republican, introduced the Halt All Lethal Trafficking of Fentanyl Act.
The White House threw its support behind the bill, noting that its provisions were critical components of the Biden-Harris administration’s 2021 recommendations to Congress.
“The HALT Fentanyl Act would permanently schedule all fentanyl-related substances not otherwise scheduled into Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act as a class and expedite research into fentanyl-related substances, which the administration has long supported,” the Office of Management and Budget said. “… The administration calls on Congress to pass all of these critical measures to improve public safety and save lives.”
The opioid and fentanyl crisis that was already tearing apart families before the COVID-19 pandemic worsened when the coronavirus hit the U.S. Overdose deaths soared from 70,630 in 2019 to 91,799 in 2020 and 106,699 in 2021, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
The Drug Enforcement Administration says fentanyl is involved in more deaths of Americans under 50 than any other cause of death. That includes heart disease, suicide, homicide and cancer, among other causes.
“With today’s bipartisan vote in the House to advance the HALT Fentanyl Act, we are one step closer to curbing the devastating fentanyl poisoning crisis and saving American lives,” Latta said in a statement. “For too long, our nation has battled an opioid epidemic fueled in recent years by illicit fentanyl and its analogs, which claimed the lives of more than 5,000 Ohioans and 70,000 Americans in 2021. … I now urge the Senate to take up this bill and send it to the president’s desk to be signed into law. Our constituents need this solution; lives are on the line if we do not act. It’s time to get this bill across the finish line.”