Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall on Thursday joined a massive bipartisan group of 52 state and territory attorneys general in calling on Congress to “expeditiously” close a deadly fentanyl loophole in federal law.
This loophole plays a harmful part in the opioid epidemic by allowing fentanyl traffickers to stay a step ahead of law enforcement by “developing new drug analogs that are somewhat different in composition.” Marshall, in a press release, noted that Alabama has already made strides in addressing this issue on the state level.
“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,” Marshall explained. “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.”
In a letter sent to congressional leadership, the group of attorneys general expressed their support of S. 1553 and H.R. 4922, better known as the Stopping Overdoses of Fentanyl Analogues (SOFA) Act. If passed by the Senate and House, this legislation would eliminate the current loophole which keeps the controlled substance scheduling system one step behind those who manufacture fentanyl analog and then introduce these powders into the opioid supply chain.
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 analogs manufactured illicitly can be lethal. The SOFA Act utilizes catch-all language which will allow the DEA to proactively schedule all newly-modified fentanyl analogs.
The letter opens by saying, “There is little doubt that the nation’s ongoing battle against heroin and opiates is unlike any other public health emergency. It touches all corners of our society. States and localities are on the front line of this crisis and are a large part of winning the battle from both a law enforcement and public health perspective.”
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn