Democrats Quarrel Over Whether To Permanently Criminalize Fentanyl-Like Drugs

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Dylan Housman Deputy News Editor
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Democratic lawmakers are at odds with the Biden administration about whether or not to permanently make nearly 5,000 fentanyl-like substances Schedule I drugs, according to a new Politico report.

The Biden administration announced in September 2021 it would seek to permanently make roughly 4,800 fentanyl-related substances (FRS) schedule I drugs. Now, some Democratic members of Congress, including New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and California Rep. Tony Cárdenas, are writing to the administration to express opposition to the plan, according to Politico, who obtained the lawmakers’ letter.

FRS are currently classified as Schedule I drugs on a temporary basis, alongside other substances such as heroin, LSD, marijuana and peyote. Schedule I drugs are defined by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as substances with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.

That temporary scheduling for FRS is set to expire at the end of this year. The classification was first made in 2018 and has been extended since, and the Biden administration would like to make it permanent.

According to the letter, which the lawmakers addressed to the Department of Justice, Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Homeland Security, there hasn’t been enough scientific evaluation of all of the thousands of substances in question to permanently place them within Schedule I.

“In the midst of the worst overdose crisis our country has ever experienced, the failure to embrace an evidence-based approach by ignoring the scientific research currently required under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) risks leaving potential antidotes to fentanyl addiction and overdoses undiscovered and unavailable,” the Democrats wrote, according to Politico.

Some experts have noted that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has only closely studied 25 of the nearly 5,000 substances that would potentially be criminalized permanently, according to Politico. (RELATED: Two Men Caught With 150,000 Fentanyl Pills Set Free By California Officials: REPORT)

The authors of the letter asked the DEA and FDA to provide additional information about the medical effects and epidemiological data for the FRS in question.