How This Law Tries To Stop Illicit Fentanyl

Legislation from New York’s Rep. Max Rose targets drugs coming from China.

A new federal law aims to cede the illicit flow of fentanyl from China to the U.S., as part of an effort to curb the opioid epidemic.

The Fentanyl Sanctions Act, championed by Rep. Max Rose (D-NY), pressures China to affirm its commitment to making fentanyl illegal and equips the federal government with more resources to go after illicit drug traffickers from other countries.

Rose’s bill was signed into law as part of a defense funding measure passed in December.

Pharmaceutical fentanyl is an opioid that is typically prescribed to treat pain for patients with cases of advanced cancer; it is between 50 and 100 times more potent than morphine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The drug can be produced illicitly and is often mixed-in with other drugs sold in underground markets.

Synthetic opioids killed 9,580 people in 2015, more than twice the deaths than in 2010. CDC states that the rise in synthetic opioid overdose deaths has been driven primarily by increasing levels of heroin, cocaine and other drugs laced with fentanyl. 

“Ending the opioid epidemic is a top priority for all of us, because far too many children, parents, siblings and loved ones have been taken from us,” Rose said during a press conference in New York last week. 

At the same event, District Attorney Michael McMahon stated that fentanyl was present in over 60% of confirmed overdoses that had been investigated through his Staten Island office last year.

Rose added that more work needs to be done to hold domestic distributors accountable for deaths related to fentanyl.

“I strongly encourage state lawmakers to make critical changes to the new bail and discovery laws—including bringing back judicial discretion,” he said.