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Senate Passes Bipartisan Legislation Cosponsored by Senator Hassan to Help Law Enforcement Tackle the Opioid Epidemic

WASHINGTON – The Senate today passed bipartisan legislation cosponsored by Senator Maggie Hassan to help ensure that law enforcement has the tools it needs to curb the opioid epidemic and better target fentanyl and similar synthetic drugs, which have contributed to the devastating substance misuse epidemic in New Hampshire and across the country.


While existing laws prohibit the sale, consumption, and manufacturing of certain specific controlled substances, illicit drug makers and importers circumvent those laws by altering a single atom or molecule of an already-controlled drug to create a new, yet significantly similar substance – which in turn can make it harder to crack down on these drugs. The bipartisan Temporary Reauthorization and Study of the Emergency Scheduling of Fentanyl Analogues Act, introduced by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), gives law enforcement, including the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Department of Justice, more flexibility to go after fentanyl-related substances by extending the designation of fentanyl analogues as a Schedule I drug for 15 months.


The Drug Enforcement Administration and the Department of Justice must have the ability to go after fentanyl analogues – which can be nearly identical to pure fentanyl and just as deadly,” said Senator Hassan. “I am pleased that the Senate voted to advance this critical bipartisan legislation to ensure that law enforcement has the tools that they need to go after this dangerous drug.”


Senator Hassan has been a leader in Congress in combating the fentanyl, heroin, and opioid epidemic. Senator Hassan recently cosponsored a bipartisan bill aimed at stopping the importation of deadly opioids and other synthetic drugs into the United States by allowing the Attorney General to regulate drugs that are substantively similar to already-scheduled controlled substances while more time-consuming testing, research, and analysis can be performed. The Senator also worked with the rest of the New Hampshire delegation to ensure that the recently passed government funding bill for fiscal year 2020 – which is now law – continues funding the State Opioid Response grant program at $1.5 billion, maintains 15 percent set-aside that Senator Hassan worked to secure for hardest-hit states, and provides additional flexibility to expand treatment for meth and cocaine use. Last year, the Senator joined a bipartisan congressional delegation trip to China where she met with government officials to discuss how to strengthen efforts to combat fentanyl trafficking. In March of 2019, Senator Hassan also pushed the U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to include the criminalization of fentanyl in the final U.S.-China trade agreement.