Support for drug classification gains traction

At the urging of Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and other attorneys general across the nation, the U.S. Senate last week overwhelmingly supported extending the temporary designation of fentanyl-related compounds as Schedule I drugs.

Schedule I drugs are defined as substances with no currently accepted medical use and possess a high potential for abuse. In 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 40 percent of the 72,000 drug-related deaths involved fentanyl or a fentanyl-related compound.

The Drug Enforcement Agency issued a temporary order, set to expire Feb. 6, 2020, that classifies fentanyl-related compounds as Schedule I drugs.

The Senate last Thursday unanimously passed S. 3201 (Temporary Reauthorization and Study of the Emergency Scheduling of Fentanyl Analogues Act). The legislation now goes to the House for consideration, and if passed, it would extend the DEA’s classification for 18 months.

“The Senate’s unanimous action last week shows that common sense overrides party affiliation when it comes to combatting this destructive substance, and we trust the House will follow this logic as well,” Nessel said. “Fentanyl-related substances have been destroying the lives of Michigan families and the lives of Americans across the country for too long, and I’m proud to stand by the attorneys general from every U.S. state, territory and Washington, D.C., in calling for their permanent classification as Schedule I drugs.”

Another piece of legislation – S. 2701, the Federal Initiative to Guarantee Health by Targeting (FIGHT) Fentanyl Act – would permanently classify fentanyl-related substances as Schedule I drugs. The FIGHT Fentanyl Act was introduced Oct. 24, 2019 by U.S. Sens. Rob Portman, R-OH, and Joe Manchin, D-WV.

The FIGHT Fentanyl Act will ensure law enforcement agencies and courts retain the tools needed to keep those trafficking this deadly substance off the streets.

In collaboration with the National Association of Attorneys General, Nessel – along with Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost – was a lead cosigner on a letter issued to lawmakers urging them to adopt the FIGHT Fentanyl Act.

Attorneys general from every state, territory and the District of Columbia signed the letter in support of the act’s adoption, which led the NAAG to endorse the legislation as one of its official policy positions. This type of endorsement typically only occurs about a dozen times per year.

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