House Passes Bill To Curb Opioid Smuggling Into U.S.
Bipartisan legislation was overwhelmingly passed by the House this week that would increase the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) ability to uncover opioid smuggling attempts into the country. The bill allocates $9 million for new screening and laboratory equipment, facilities and the personnel required to intercept synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.
The legislation was introduced by Niki Tsongas (D-MA), and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) was co-sponsored by Annie Kuster (D-NH.) Fitzpatrick is the leader of the House House Bipartisan Heroin Task Force, and Kuster serves as its chairperson.
“The opioid epidemic that is devastating communities around New Hampshire and across the country requires a comprehensive response that addresses all aspects of this crisis.”
She noted that the legislation, also known as the INTERDICT Act would “reduce the flow of fentanyl and synthetic opioids from outside the country by giving CBP the necessary tools to detect and intercept these dangerous substances.”
Fentanyl is up to 50 times stronger than heroin, and in some areas, experts estimate that it may be involved in at least 50% of all opioid-related deaths. According to the Drug Enforcement Agency fentanyl is most often smuggled into the U.S. from Mexico or China.
A bipartisan companion to the legislation has also been introduced in the U.S. Senate.
Last week, President Donald Trump stated that he would declare the opioid epidemic a national emergency.
Indeed, Donald Norcross (D) and Vice-Chair of the Task Force referred to “the disease of addiction” as a “national emergency” and that “we must act fast, remove barriers and help those suffering.”
In related news, members of the task force also introduced other legislation last week (RESTORE) that would restore the DEA’s authority take enforcement action against drug distributors when investigating drug diversion.
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology