Fentanyl has caused fatal overdoses across the United States. Sometimes added to heroin or cocaine without the user knowing, fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than heroin and morphine, and can kill those who come in contact with even minuscule amounts of it. Many in law enforcement and the health care industry believe it is drug catalyst of the national opioid epidemic.
Which is exactly why Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall is trying to do his best to stop its trafficking and distribution.
Marshall, as part of a bipartisan group of 52 state and territory attorneys general, called on Congress on Thursday to help end the opioid epidemic and close a loophole that allows those who traffic deadly fentanyl to stay a step ahead of law enforcement by developing new drug analogues that are somewhat different in composition.
“We know that illicit drug manufacturers are devious in changing the makeup of a drug just enough that it no longer falls under its classification as a controlled substance. Alabama has already strengthened its laws to deal with this problem, and we must ensure that our federal laws do not permit deadly criminal activity by way of a loophole,” said Marshall.
The attorneys general sent a letter to Congress in support of S.1553 and H.R.4922, the Stopping Overdoses of Fentanyl Analogues (SOFA) Act. Fentanyl is currently a Schedule II controlled substance and when used as prescribed by a doctor, can be a safe painkiller. However outside of careful supervision, fentanyl and analogues manufactured illicitly can be lethal.
The SOFA Act, if passed by the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives, would eliminate the current loophole which keeps the controlled substance scheduling system one step behind those who manufacture fentanyl analogue and then introduce these powders into the opioid supply chain. The SOFA Act utilizes catch-all language which will allow the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to proactively schedule all newly-modified fentanyl analogues.
In addition to Alabama, the other attorneys general who signed the letter were: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.