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house Bill H.R. 2851

Should Synthetic Drugs (Like the Opioid Fentanyl) be a New Class of Controlled Substances?

Argument in favor

This bill will help put a stop to the importation and distribution of dangerous synthetic drugs by giving law enforcement the tools they need to keep traffickers of these drugs off the streets.

Joseph's Opinion
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06/10/2018
Why in the hell wouldn’t synthetic drugs be listed as controlled substances. Marijuana plants are listed as schedule one, so why isn’t synthetic marijuana scheduled the same way?
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06/15/2018
Enforce the laws on the books. Build the wall.
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Chickie's Opinion
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06/15/2018
Although I agree certain pain medication should have tighter regulations, awareness needs to occur. There are millions of Americans that suffer from autoimmune deficiency. Although they do not need Fentanyl for treatment, they do need other opioids for their intense pain. These are responsible adults who need certain pain medication for daily function. They should not experience prejudice when picking up prescriptions.
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Argument opposed

There are already laws on the books that can be used to designate synthetic drugs as illegal and to punish their traffickers so this bill, while well-intended, is unnecessary.

Christophunk's Opinion
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06/14/2018
This bill bans kratom, a natural plant with incredible properties, that many many people use for the great health and healing properties. Please vote NO on this bill or only vote yes if the Pocan amendment is added which takes kratom out of the bill. My quality of life will be destroyed if this passes as is. Thank you kindly.
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Ted's Opinion
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06/19/2017
Seems like an attempt to further the failing drug war. Enough already!
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AndreB's Opinion
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06/17/2017
This bill gives the Attorney General too much power to enact drug policy. That should be in the domain of congress to ensure that its had some thorough medical review. There are already some drugs that need to be re-classified. The War on Drugs has been out of control for far too long already. We don't need new tactics for mass incarceration.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on the Judiciary
  • The house Passed June 15th, 2018
    Roll Call Vote 239 Yea / 142 Nay
      house Committees
      Committee on Energy and Commerce
      Health
      Committee on the Judiciary
      Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security
    IntroducedJune 8th, 2017

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What is House Bill H.R. 2851?

This bill — the SITSA Act — would create a new Schedule A to the Controlled Substances Act’s five existing schedules to create a mechanism for adding synthetic analogues for illegal drugs to the list of banned substances. It would also add 13 synthetic fentanyls — a form of opioid used as a pain medication — to Schedule A and establish penalties for the unlawful distribution, importation, or export of the drugs.

Penalties for a first offense involving distribution would be up to 10 years imprisonment plus fines of up to $500,000, or 15 years if death or serious injury results from the drug’s use. An offense with a prior felony drug conviction would carry a sentence of up to 20 years plus fines of up to $1 million, or 30 years in cases of death or serious injury. Sentences would include at least two years of supervised release for first-time offenders, while that would be increased to at least four years for repeat offenders.

A first offense involving the import or export of such substances would be punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment, or up to life imprisonment in cases of death or serious injury. If a violation follows a prior felony drug conviction the penalty would be up to 30 years imprisonment, or up to life imprisonment in cases of death or serious injury. Sentences would include at least three years of supervised release for first-time offenders, while that would be increased to at least six years for repeat offenders.

Individuals who wish to handle the substances (like researchers or chemists) would have to register with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and pay a fee. Revenue from fees would go toward covering the cost of overseeing those who register.

The bill’s full title is the Stop the Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogues Act of 2017.

Impact

Drug offenders sentenced under this bill; law enforcement; courts and the corrections system; and DEA and the Dept. of Justice.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 2851

The CBO estimates that enacting this bill would have an insignificant impact on federal spending and revenues.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. John Katko (R-NY) introduced this bill to combat the synthetic drug epidemic:

“Just a few weeks back, we saw a record surge in synthetic drug overdoses in Syracuse. Sadly, this has become all too commonplace in our community. Today, I’m proud to stand here with some of the individuals from across Central New York who work on the front lines each and every day to combat this epidemic. The legislation I’ve introduced will help stop the unlawful importation and distribution of synthetic drugs and give our law enforcement the effective tools they need to keep our community safe.”

Several conservative groups — including FreedomWorks, the American Conservative Union Foundation, Generation Opportunity, and the Taxpayers Protection Alliance — expressed opposition to this bill writing:

“If passed, H.R. 2851 will broadly expand penalties for drug offenses, concentrate power within the Department of Justice, punish people who lack criminal intent, and overcriminalize certain behavior. The legislation attempts to address the very real problem of synthetic opioid overdoses in the United States, but we believe that its methods are misguided. Instead of punishing people who use drugs and low-level dealers, legislation should focus on expanding treatment opportunities targeting the international drug trade.”

This legislation passed the House Judiciary Committee on a voice vote and has the support of 65 bipartisan cosponsors, including 58 Republicans and seven Democrats.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: Hailshadow / iStock)

AKA

SITSA Act

Official Title

To amend the Controlled Substances Act to clarify how controlled substance analogues are to be regulated, and for other purposes.

    Why in the hell wouldn’t synthetic drugs be listed as controlled substances. Marijuana plants are listed as schedule one, so why isn’t synthetic marijuana scheduled the same way?
    Like (48)
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    This bill bans kratom, a natural plant with incredible properties, that many many people use for the great health and healing properties. Please vote NO on this bill or only vote yes if the Pocan amendment is added which takes kratom out of the bill. My quality of life will be destroyed if this passes as is. Thank you kindly.
    Like (93)
    Follow
    Share
    Seems like an attempt to further the failing drug war. Enough already!
    Like (57)
    Follow
    Share
    This bill gives the Attorney General too much power to enact drug policy. That should be in the domain of congress to ensure that its had some thorough medical review. There are already some drugs that need to be re-classified. The War on Drugs has been out of control for far too long already. We don't need new tactics for mass incarceration.
    Like (40)
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    Republican grandstanding again. There are laws on the books that can and should be used to accomplish the controls specified in this bill, and the time and legislative energy spent passing it could be put to better use.
    Like (23)
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    This bill may be well intended, but it puts too much power in the hands of the DOJ, will punish people who don't have criminal intentions, and overcriminalize certain behaviors. Instead of expanding our ineffective war on drugs, we should focus on treatment for people who are already addicted.
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    Fentanyl is a Class II controlled substance. Anyone claiming it is “uncontrolled” is uninformed. Not sure we need ANOTHER Classification, Schedule II is the most regulated. Schedule I drugs are not legally available—LSD, heroin, PCP, other street drugs including marajuana.
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    The concerning part of this bill is less the content it proposes to regulate but its implication on the separation of powers in this country. Giving all power to the department of justice in regards to a health related problem is absurd and irresponsible. The continuing criminalization of drugs has done nothing to reduce drug abuse and has succeeded only in creating criminals out of otherwise law abiding citizens. Concentrating power is a telltale sign of the disintegration of democracy and allowing this bill to pass undermines the foundation of our free country.
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    These drugs are already controlled. Any changes need to be based on real science and research, not to further someone’s political agenda.
    Like (13)
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    No, and the War on Drugs should be ended
    Like (12)
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    Stop ramping up the drug war and throwing people in jail! This is ridiculous! We should have learned already that locking people up for drugs has not deterred drug use and only ruins countless lives. Focus on drug education and rehabilitation for drug addiction.
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    Stop the war on drugs! It’s a proven failure. Invest in successful treatment. Legalize drugs, tax them, then use the tax money to fund evidence based treatment.
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    My mom has a terminal illness and she has now had to change pain medication because she can’t get her old medication that works for her. Now she’s on medication that doesn’t work and like with all controlled substances there are insurance issues that come into play, so she has to go a few days here and there without. I hate to see her like that because she’s in such pain! ☹️
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    We need to address the opioid addiction problem as a health care issue rather than a law enforcement issue.
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    These medications are needed for pain patients. It is already hard enough for patients that need these medications to get a prescription. Those of you that think they should be illegal have no idea what it is like to live with pain daily. These medications give quality of life to those that need it. Do not punish those that need these medications because some individuals abuse them. Better treatments for addiction is the way to go. The addict, though, has to want to get treatment.
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    Even more enforcement. Why not focus on education and rehabilitation?
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    Seems very unnecessary. Fentanyl has been around for years, it's nothing new.
    Like (7)
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    There are enough Laws on the books already. All this Bill will do is make it harder for people with severe pain to get the medicine they need!!!!!!!
    Like (7)
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    Fentynyl is already a controlled substance. We don't need more laws, we need a more rational policy to address the problem of drug addiction
    Like (7)
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    Enforce the laws on the books. Build the wall.
    Like (7)
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