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FLEOA Endorses Group for Fentanyl Scheduling

September 13, 2021


The Honorable Dick Durbin
Chairman
Senate Committee
224 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
 
The Honorable Chuck Grassley
Ranking Member
Senate Committee on the Judiciary
224 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
 
Dear Chairman Durbin and Ranking Member Grassley,

We, the undersigned organizations, write to urge you to pass legislation that permanently schedules fentanyl-related substances.

In 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that over 93,000 Americans died from a drug overdose.1 The primary driver of these deaths were synthetic opioids, like illicitly manufactured fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances. Last year, over 70,000 people died from an overdose connected to a synthetic drug. The spread of fentanyl substances in our communities is devastating. Being on the front lines, we see the destruction it wreaks every single day. We must work to find and pass a permanent solution to schedule these deadly drugs.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) took action to temporarily control fentanyl- related substances by issuing an emergency scheduling order 3 years ago. This order has since been extended twice by Congress, most recently until October 22, 2021.2 Extension legislation is helpful in preventing a lapse in this critical and lifesaving tool, and we applaud Congress’s dedication to ensuring that all fentanyl-related substances remain controlled.

Controlling fentanyl analogues permanently is the most effective way to stop their spread and prevent future overdoses. We are grateful that the Administration’s proposal reflects this and has placed all fentanyl-related substances in Schedule I. As evidenced by the DEA’s initial class- wide scheduling order and China’s reciprocal scheduling of fentanyl analogues, such proactive measures directly impact the supply of the drug entering the United States from source countries.3 Also, in the absence of the class-wide order, law enforcement would almost certainly face a surge of new, never before seen fentanyl-related substances.4 Without a class-wide scheduling law in place, these fentanyl analogues will be scheduled on an individual basis, which can take years. Simply put, American lives are on the line and we don’t have the time to waste repeatedly resorting to a lengthy, bureaucratic process. Deliberative, decisive, and strong action is needed.

Scheduling fentanyl analogues will cut off supply by making it more difficult to illicitly produce. This, in turn, will reduce traffickers’ abilities to sell the drugs in our communities. If fewer drugs are sold, fewer people will use them and fewer people will die. Scheduling fentanyl analogues is likely the most effective tool to prevent overdoses from ever occurring.

An effective sentencing structure for fentanyl drugs doesn’t seek to unduly punish drug abusers or addicts. Rather, serious consequences like mandatory minimums exist to deter and  punish the kingpins, their traffickers, and the manufacturers who flood our communities with deadly drugs. Any permanent legislative solution on fentanyl-related substances must address the need to deter and punish criminal organizations and their leaders who threaten the safety of the  communities we serve.

The current class-wide scheduling order for fentanyl-related substances expires on October 22, 2021. As we near the expiration of the scheduling authority, we call on Congress to work collaboratively, transparently, and quickly in finding a solution that extends the current scheduling order on fentanyl-related substances and protects against future overdose deaths. In the event that a permanent legislative proposal cannot pass Congress before the scheduling authority expires, we alternatively would support a straight extension of DEA’s scheduling order so that this critical authority does not lapse. If another temporary extension is the most prudent path forward, we strongly believe that a lengthy extension period is necessary, and that it must be significantly longer than this most recent mere stopgap of 5 months.

We must find a way to prevent any more loss of American lives due to drug overdoses. We know the culprit; we know the cost of inaction. Scheduling fentanyl analogues is time sensitive, necessary, and critical. It cannot be bargained, traded, or compromised. As such, Congress can and must rise to the occasion and schedule fentanyl-related substances. We stand at the ready to help with this critical task.

Sincerely,
 

Larry Cosme                                                                               

National President                                                                    

Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association                          

 

 

Bob Bushman

President

National Narcotic Officers’ Associations’ Coalition


Laura Cooper

Executive Director

Major Cities Chiefs Association

 

Chief Cynthia E. Renaud (Ret.)                                           

President                                                                                       

International Association of Chiefs of Police  

 

William J. Johnson

Executive Director

National Association of Police Organizations


Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian    

Middlesex County, Massachusetts                                       

President                                                                                      

Major County Sheriffs of America

 

Jonathan F. Thompson

Executive Director and CEO

National Sheriffs’ Association


Nelson Bunn                                                                              

Executive Director                                                                     

National District Attorneys Association                         

 

Ed Mullins

President

Sergeants Benevolent Association, NYPD

 

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 1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center For Health Statistics: Vital Statistics Rapid Response: Provisional Drug
Overdose Death Counts (Feb. 7, 2021), https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/drug-overdose-data.htm.  

 2 Extending Temporary Emergency Scheduling of Fentanyl Analogues Act, Pub. L. 117-12.  

 3 Fentanyl Analogues: Perspectives on Class-wide Scheduling: Hearing Before Subcomm. on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security,

116th Cong. (Jan. 28, 2020) (Statement of Amanda Liskamm, Director, Opioid Enforcement and Prevention Efforts, Office of the Deputy

Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice), https://docs.house.gov/meetings/JU/JU08/20200128/110392/HHRG-116-JU08-Wstate

LiskammA-20200128.pdf.  

4 This was the case prior to the DEA class-wide scheduling order. According to Customs and Border Protection (CBP), from 2016 to 2018,

CBP "…encountered either a new fentanyl analogue, a non-fentanyl opioid, or a fentanyl substance utilizing a molecular deletion nearly

every single month (33 total).” See also The Countdown: Fentanyl Analogues and the Expiring Emergency Scheduling Order: Hearing

Before Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, 116th Cong. (June 4, 2019) (Statement of Kemp L. Chester, Assistant Director,

National Opioids and Synthetics Coordination Group, Office of National Drug Control Policy),

https://www.judiciary.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Chester%20Testimony.pdf.