WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger yesterday reintroduced her bipartisan bill to deter narcotics traffickers from using illicit pill presses to manufacture counterfeit drugs.
Spanberger first introduced the Criminalizing Abused Substance Templates (CAST) Act in October 2019, and she reintroduced the legislation on Wednesday alongside U.S. Representative David Kustoff (R-TN-08).
As the opioid epidemic worsens amid the COVID-19 pandemic, drug traffickers have continued to turn to counterfeit drug manufacturing as a strategy to profit from opioid abuse and addiction. 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 is not defined.
The 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, Spanberger’s legislation would stiffen penalties for those who use pill presses to create and distribute counterfeit drugs—including opioids.
“Families, businesses, and entire communities in Virginia continue to face immense challenges due to opioid abuse. As this public health crisis significantly worsens as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we also face the threat of extremely dangerous substances — such as fentanyl — being pressed into illicit pills and sold on our streets,” said Spanberger. “This bill would help crack down on the production of counterfeit drugs via illicit pill press molds. By deterring drug traffickers and those who produce illicit drugs, we would take another step in the fight against fentanyl-related deaths. I’m proud to stand alongside Congressman Kustoff to reintroduce this legislation, and I’ll keep working with my colleagues to prevent overdoses, increase access to treatment, and build new pathways for Virginians to achieve long-term recovery.”
“The opioid epidemic has ravaged our communities in West Tennessee and across our nation. Unfortunately, as we continue to battle COVID-19, the opioid crisis has only grown worse. We owe it to our loved ones to take stronger action to fight back against this public health emergency. The CAST Act is the much needed, bold step forward in this fight,” said Kustoff. “It will increase penalties against possession of harmful drugs and pill press molds, helping to combat the illegal drug market and the dangers it presents to our citizens and our brave law enforcement officers across the nation. I am honored to take the lead on this strongly bipartisan bill in Congress, and I look forward to working with Congresswoman Spanberger and my colleagues to pass this important legislation.”
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.