Representative Tim Ryan Introduces Bill to Stop Illicit Drug Trafficking

Washington, DC – Representatives Tim Ryan (D-OH) and Tom Rooney (R-FL) introduced the Stop Trafficking in Fentanyl Act of 2017 today, a bill that amends the Controlled Substances Act to ensure the law appropriately reflects the potency of the opioid fentanyl.

Addiction costs the United States $700 billion annually. In 2015, 52,000 deaths in the United States were caused by overdose, 33,000 of which can be directly attributed to opioids. Fentanyl, which is 50 times more powerful than heroin, is thought to be responsible for the massive spike in opioid overdose deaths. The DEA has issued a public warning to law enforcement warning them about accidental exposure to fentanyl, a substance which can be lethal at volumes the size of a grain of salt.

“Ohio has seen yet another record-breaking year for overdose-related deaths, many due to fentanyl. We are losing too many of our friends, neighbors, and relatives to this destructive drug epidemic. I am proud to join Congressman Rooney in introducing this important legislation that will help get these drugs off the streets.  We must respond to this crisis from all sides by improving coordination to reduce the number of drugs available, while also increasing and expanding access to treatment for those who are suffering,” said Rep. Ryan.

“My concern is that without action, these overdose figures are only going to get worse,” said Rep. Rooney. “The opioid epidemic has been tearing communities apart across the country. Congressman Ryan and I continually hear about fentanyl from our local law enforcement officers and prosecutors, and this bill will help give them the tools they need to get those who traffic this dangerous synthetic opioid off the street.”  

The Stop Trafficking in Fentanyl Act would reduce the amount of fentanyl needed to invoke the most serious trafficking penalties for an individual trafficking and manufacturing the drug. The bill would lower the threshold that triggers federal penalties from 400 grams to 20 grams to ensure that the law appropriately reflects the extreme strength of the drug, which can be fatal in doses as small as 0.25 mg. The DEA has also issued warnings to law enforcement as fentanyl can be absorbed through the skin and accidental inhalation of airborne powder can also occur.