The Democrats sitting on the House Energy and Commerce Committee issued an odd vote to be against a new bill this past week that was attempting to classify fentanyl-related substances (FRS) as Schedule I substances — a vote which has been issued despite the fact that a record number of Americans are dying from fentanyl-related substances (FRS) each year.
The committee’s health subcommittee issued its approval of the bill via a vote of 17-10 with every single Democrat, except for Rep. Angie Craig (MN), throwing out their vote against the measure.
Republicans have been trying to pass the new piece of legislation because it will raise the mandatory minimum sentence for those caught illegally having those substances in their possession, which they think will cause a much more significant drop in their spread over the country. Well over 70,000 Americans die per year as a result of overdoses caused by synthetic opioids, with the drug fentanyl driving most of those deaths.
Schedule 1 substances are substances that show “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse,” as reported by officials with the DEA. However, quite a few of the substances on the list — which include magic mushrooms, MDMA, and Marijuana — have been utilized in states that have either made legal the medical use of the substances or in settings of clinical research.
The committee states that the new legislation “closely tracks recommendations to Congress submitted by the Office of National Drug Control Policy in September 2021.”
“It would permanently place FRS into Schedule I of the CSA [Controlled Substances Act], simplify registration processes for certain research with Schedule I substances, removing barriers that currently impede such work, and provide for exemption of individual FRS from Schedule I when evidence demonstrates it is appropriate,” added the committee.
The wording of the new piece of legislation lays out a sizable number of exceptions when it comes to research and the process for which any fentanyl-related substances could be exempted from the list, which could include actions taken by the U.S. Attorney General or if the substances become expressly listed as being part of another schedule classification. It is entirely unclear how the new bill would impact the current, and legitimate, medical cases of FRS, although the text from the bill can be fully modified.
The primary opposition to the bill from the Democrats seems to stem from being focused on raising the mandatory minimum sentencing due to the fact that Democrats see the issue as being much more of an issue regarding mental health than a criminal issue.
The most recent National Drug Threat Assessment from the DEA says that the majority of fentanyl is smuggled into the U.S. by Mexican drug cartels across the southern border.