House Judiciary GOP congressmen press DEA to address fentanyl-related drugs

Fentanyl analogues are considered to have "no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse."

Updated: September 14, 2022 - 4:30pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee are pressing the Drug Enforcement Administration about fentanyl-related substances as they are looking at permanently extending an emergency order to more strictly classify the substance amid the ongoing opioid epidemic. 

Ranking House Judiciary Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio and fellow committee member Rep. Scott Fitzgerald of Wisconsin wrote a letter Wednesday asking DEA Administrator Anne Milgram for information on fentanyl-related substances, but noted that the agency "has repeatedly stonewalled our requests for basic information."

Congress is considering making the emergency class-wide scheduling order for fentanyl-related substances permanent rather than letting it expire this December as scheduled.

Fentanyl analogues, which are similar to the synthetic deadly opioid fentanyl, are classified under the emergency order as Schedule I drugs. This means they have "no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse," per the DEA, and the minimum federal trafficking penalty for a convicted first-time offender is at least 5 years. 

In 2020, more than 71,000 people died from synthetic opioids, primarily fentanyl, the congressmen wrote. More recently, the DEA warned last month about the "alarming emerging trend" of rainbow fentanyl being peddled by drug cartels to children.

The representatives said there is an "urgent need to address fentanyl-related substances," but the Biden-Harris administration will only permanently schedule fentanyl analogues as a Schedule I drug "if it is tied to certain anti-law enforcement policies."

The House Republicans are attempting to permanently classify fentanyl-related substances without including the administration's agenda.

"If the Biden-Harris Administration's unrelated radical proposals are implemented, they would significantly undermine law enforcement efforts to combat drug traffickers," the congressmen wrote, asking for more information about fentanyl-related substances to help them "fully examine these considerations."