House to vote on act permanently classifying fentanyl-related substances as schedule I drugs

The bill would permanently classify fentanyl-related substances as schedule I drugs, which means they have no medical use in the U.S.

Published: May 22, 2023 10:33am

The House is scheduled to vote on a bill Thursday that would permanently classify all forms of illicit fentanyl as schedule I drugs as part of an effort to crack down on trafficking of the deadly synthetic opioid. 

The Halt All Lethal Trafficking of Fentanyl Act is set for a House vote Thursday, according to a calendar from House Majority Leader Steve Scalise.

The act, which was introduced by Reps. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.) and Bob Latta (R-Ohio), has more than 50 Republican cosponsors.

Fentanyl-related substances are temporarily classified as schedule I drugs under the Controlled Substances Act until December 2024, per the Drug Enforcement Administration. The bill would permanently classify fentanyl-related substances as schedule I drugs.

Schedule I substances "have no currently accepted medical use in the United States" and a "high potential for abuse," according to the Justice Department. Other drugs in this category include heroin, marijuana and Ecstasy. Fentanyl is classified as a Schedule II substance as it is prescribed by doctors for severe pain, such as that experienced during advanced-stage cancer.

The Republican lawmakers say that when the emergency scheduling order expires, more fentanyl-related substances will be street-legal and drug traffickers will be empowered to push these types of drugs by changing a molecule in fentanyl to create legal versions. 

The bill would also create new ways for schedule I drugs to be researched.

The legislation may face a battle in the Democrat-controlled Senate or in the White House. Groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch are urging lawmakers to vote against the bill, which they argue is "based on a flawed class definition, imposes mandatory minimums, and fails to provide an offramp for removing inert or harmless substances from the drug schedule."

Madeleine Hubbard is an international correspondent for Just the News. Follow her on Twitter or Instagram.

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