Spanberger Continues Efforts to Crack Down on Fentanyl Trafficking, Votes to Permanently Classify Fentanyl Analogues as Schedule I Substance

The HALT Fentanyl Act Would Permanently Place Fentanyl Analogues into Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger — a former federal law enforcement officer — today voted to pass legislation that would permanently schedule fentanyl analogues as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).

Fentanyl analogues are illicit alterations of medically prescribed fentanyl — often shipped via the “dark web” from China and Mexico — which mimic fentanyl’s effects. According to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, fentanyl analogues are more lethal than fentanyl, “as evidenced by the higher rate of death and serious bodily injury resulting from use.”

The Halt All Lethal Trafficking of (HALT) Fentanyl Act would address the permanent scheduling of fentanyl analogues in the Schedule I category, as well as grant researchers the ability to conduct safe studies on these substances. Specifically, the bill would permanently place fentanyl analogues into Schedule I of the CSA.

“As a former federal agent and CIA officer who worked narcotics cases and tracked cartels, I’m deeply aware of the threat posed by fentanyl and fentanyl analogues to our Virginia communities,” said Spanberger. “I’ve heard directly from Virginia law enforcement departments, recovery advocates, and healthcare professionals about the urgent need to keep these dangerous substances off our streets — and this legislation would make sure we are committed to eradicating the threat of fentanyl analogues for the long haul. Together, we can take more steps — like this bill — to save lives, prevent overdoses, and keep our communities safe.”

Additionally, the HALT Fentanyl Act would simplify registration processes for certain research with Schedule I substances, as well as provide for exemption of individual analogues from Schedule I when evidence demonstrates it is appropriate.

The HALT Fentanyl Act closely tracks recommendations to Congress submitted by the Biden Administration’s Office of National Drug Control Policy in September 2021. Currently, fentanyl and fentanyl analogues temporarily fall under Schedule I of the CSA due to a temporary scheduling order that runs through Dec. 31, 2024.

The legislation is led by U.S. Representatives Morgan Griffith (R-VA-09) and Bob Latta (R-OH-05).

BACKGROUND

Spanberger has consistently worked to tackle the opioid epidemic and substance abuse crisis, support recovery services, and block deadly drugs — including illicit fentanyl — from entering Virginia’s communities, including:

  • Strengthening Virginia’s addiction prevention, treatment, and recovery services. In December 2022, President Biden signed into law Spanberger’s bipartisan Summer Barrow Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery Act, which provides $900 million of support for programs that combat substance use disorder and addiction in the Commonwealth and across the country.
  • Cracking down on fentanyl trafficking at America’s borders and ports of entry. In December 2022, the President signed into law Spanberger’s bipartisan legislation — the Securing America’s Borders Against Fentanyl Act — to strengthen America’s response to fentanyl coming through the nation’s borders and ports of entry.
  • Giving law enforcement officers the tools and training they need. Last month, Spanberger introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation — the POWER Act — to provide state and local law enforcement with new devices to detect and identify dangerous drugs — including fentanyl. And earlier this year, she reintroduced her bipartisan legislation to crack down on narcotics traffickers who are using illicit pill presses to manufacture counterfeit drugs.
  • Fighting Tranq and holding drug traffickers accountable. Last month, Spanberger backed the Combating Illicit Xylazine Act, which would address the abuse of xylazine-adulterated fentanyl — also known as “tranq” — by empowering law enforcement to go after these criminals. Additionally, it would classify the illicit use of xylazine as a Schedule III substance under the Controlled Substances Act.
  • Boosting the number of treatment providers for substance use disorder and mental health care. Last week, Spanberger introduced a bipartisan bill reauthorizing and increasing funding for the Substance Use Disorder Treatment and Recovery (STAR) Loan Repayment Program (LRP).
  • Protecting Virginia children and teenagers from overdoses. Earlier this month, Spanberger helped introduce bipartisan legislation to expand the availability of naloxone — also known as Narcan or Evzio — in Virginia schools. The Spanberger-backed School Access to Naloxone Act — modeled after the 2013 School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act, which supported the rollout of EpiPens nationwide — would incentivize the stocking of naloxone and training of staff on its safe administration in schools across the country.

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