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OPINION | BRUCE WESTERMAN: HALT Fentanyl Act tackles deadly drug

by Bruce Westerman Special to The Commercial | September 17, 2023 at 2:30 a.m.

Illicit fentanyl poisoning is now the leading cause of death for adults ages 18-49 -- more than cancer, car accidents and heart disease.

Only a few milligrams of the drug, about the size of the tip of a pencil, can be lethal. With thousands and thousands of pounds of deadly drugs pouring across our border and infiltrating our communities, this epidemic has grown and evolved into a full-blown health and national security crisis.

The drug is easier to produce than cocaine or heroin and can be sold for 100 times more than it costs to produce. Since small doses are incredibly potent (50-200 times more than morphine), it makes it easier for criminals, drug cartels and foreign adversaries to smuggle the deadly drug into our communities.

Illicit fentanyl has stolen hundreds of thousands of lives, and almost everyone nowadays has been affected or knows someone affected by the drug. This shouldn't be a partisan issue. I think we can all agree that we must take action to combat the fentanyl crisis and keep Americans safe.

Earlier this year, the U.S. House passed a bill that I co-sponsored, the HALT Fentanyl Act, that would make the temporary class-wide scheduling order for fentanyl-related substances permanent. Once enacted, it would ensure that law enforcement has the tools they need to keep fentanyl-related substances and other dangerous drugs off our streets. In addition, it also ensures that practitioners can research the substance so we can better understand the effects on people's health and help those affected by the drug in the future.

With a historic amount of fentanyl flowing over our southern border (23,770 pounds seized by CBP so far in FY 23 alone) and thousands of unsuspecting victims losing their lives daily, it's time for us to face this issue head-on and call it what it is: a national security crisis.

Lives are on the line. We can't look the other way while criminals continue to spread this deadly drug throughout our communities. I will continue advancing common-sense solutions to get fentanyl and other illegal drugs off our streets. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to consider the legislation the House has already put forth to combat the fentanyl crisis.

Bruce Westerman represents Arkansas' Fourth District in the U.S. Congress, which covers much of western and southern Arkansas including Jefferson, Grant, Cleveland, Dallas, Drew, Bradley and Ashley counties.

Print Headline: HALT Fentanyl bill needs to be enacted


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