Spanberger Reintroduces Bipartisan Bill to Crack Down on Illegal Pill Presses, Strengthen Nationwide Fight Against Fentanyl

The Congresswoman’s CAST Act Would Toughen Penalties for Those Using Illicit Drug Molds to Bolster their Drug Trafficking Operations

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger today reintroduced her bipartisan legislation to crack down on narcotics traffickers who are using illicit pill presses to manufacture counterfeit drugs.

As overdose rates remain high in Virginia and across the country, drug traffickers have weaponized counterfeit drug manufacturing as a strategy to profit from the substance use crisis. These molds can easily be purchased online, and they are often used to produce drugs designed to mimic legitimate pharmaceutical products. Currently, this practice is prohibited by law — but the penalty for the individuals involved is not defined.

Spanberger’s bipartisan Criminalizing Abused Substance Templates (CAST) Act would address this enforcement issue by modifying the Controlled Substances Act to clearly define the criminal penalty for making counterfeit drugs using a pill press. Additionally, her legislation would stiffen penalties for those who use pill presses to create and distribute counterfeit drugs — including opioids.

“The overdose crisis and the rising scourge of fentanyl are made worse by those who use illicit pill presses to manufacture counterfeit drugs. As a former federal law enforcement officer and CIA case officer who worked narcotics trafficking cases, I believe in labeling these individuals as who they truly are — criminals,” said Spanberger. “That’s why I’m proud to once again join Congressman Kustoff in reintroducing our CAST Act to hold these criminals accountable. By both stepping up penalties for manufacturing these deadly drugs and prioritizing support for treatment and recovery programs, we can help more Americans fight addiction, reduce the number of overdoses we see on our streets, and tackle fentanyl on all fronts.”

Spanberger first introduced the CAST Act in October 2019, and she reintroduced it in February 2021. Spanberger is leading the introduction of this bipartisan bill with U.S. Representative David Kustoff (R-TN-08).

“Now more than ever, deadly drugs, such as fentanyl, are flooding our communities and taking countless, innocent lives in West Tennessee and across the country,” said Kustoff. “I am proud to reintroduce the CAST Act to provide stricter penalties against possession of harmful counterfeit drugs as well as pill press molds. This bill is an important step forward in our effort to combat the opioid epidemic that is currently plaguing our nation. I urge my colleagues in the House of Representatives to support this crucial legislation that will protect all Americans from dangerous counterfeit drugs.”

Specifically, Spanberger’s CAST Act would make possession of a press mold with intent to counterfeit Schedule I or II substances a crime within the Controlled Substances Act. Additionally, the bipartisan legislation would increase by two levels the offense level of making or selling controlled substances in conjunction with possession of a pill press mold.

BACKGROUND

Spanberger has consistently worked to combat fentanyl trafficking and address the substance abuse crisis in Virginia’s communities. In December 2022, President Biden signed into law Spanberger’s 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.

That same month, the President signed into law her 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.

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