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Congress Passes Emergency Prohibition Of Fentanyl Analogues, Now Waiting On Presidental Signature

“The emergency prohibition of fentanyl analogues expires on Feb. 6 without congressional action. Fentanyl and its analogues are responsible for at least 31 overdose deaths since 2015 in Montana. Unless Congress acts, law enforcement will not have the tools it needs to protect Montana families from the onslaught of these extraordinarily dangerous substances,” said U.S. Attorney Kurt G. Alme in a statement Jan. 29.

In an effort to combat this deadly drug epidemic, DEA issued a temporary emergency two-year order in February 2018 that made all fentanyl-related substances illegal.

Our country has seen a marked supply impact from DEA’s temporary scheduling of fentanyl-related substances during the past two years, with a 50 percent decrease in fentanyl-related substances encountered across the United States. However, DEA’s emergency authority expires at midnight on Feb. 6, 2020, unless Congress acts to extend it.

Both the House and Senate have passed the bill and it now awaits President Donald Trump’s signature.

“We are seeing a transition in the source of fentanyl finding its way into Montana communities. Instead of fentanyl from China in relatively small amounts, law enforcement officials are now intercepting loads of Mexican cartel-produced fentanyl. The cartels are using their established and prolific distribution networks to deliver fentanyl — a substance that is exponentially more dangerous than heroin. We continue to be very aggressive in prosecuting these cases,” Alme said.

“Although fentanyl prosecutions are still a very small part of the illicit drug problem in Montana, its potency makes it a significant threat. Fentanyl is 80 to 100 times stronger than morphine, and some of its analogues are stronger yet. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, drug dealers often add fentanyl to heroin and methamphetamine to increase the potency of those illicit drugs, which can be deadly. In 2017, two Bozeman residents died and five more overdosed after they consumed counterfeit OxyContin tablets that contained a powerful fentanyl analogue, carfentanil. These substances are a threat to Montanans and must be regulated by Congress,” Alme said.

“I am urging Congress to give us the tools we need to continue our efforts against the distribution of fentanyl and its analogues here in Montana. We need every tool we have to target this growing threat. Congress must take action immediately to extend the scheduling of these dangerous substances,” Alme said.

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