Buchanan-Backed Bill Targets Deadly Opioids
Buchanan’s District at Epicenter of Drug Crisis
WASHINGTON — Congressman Vern Buchanan said today federal legislation signed into law this week will help confront the escalating drug crisis by keeping deadly opioids from entering the country.
The INTERDICT Act will help stem the flow of illicit fentanyl and other drugs by providing U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents with drug-detecting chemical screening devices at ports of entry and more personnel, including scientists, to detect drugs being sent into the U.S. from Mexico, China and other countries.
Florida saw a dramatic 97 percent increase in fentanyl-related deaths from 2015 to 2016, according to the most recent data from the Florida Medical Examiners Commission.
Buchanan said the bipartisan legislation, which he co-sponsored, passed with overwhelming support in the U.S. House and Senate. “This new law is an example of what Washington is capable of when both parties work together for the good of the country,” said Buchanan, co-chair of the bipartisan Florida congressional delegation.
Fentanyl is a synthetic drug similar to heroin but 50 times more powerful. Its many spinoffs can be even more powerful, especially the elephant tranquilizer carfentanil, and they led to more deaths in Manatee County than any other county in Florida in 2016. These drugs are often manufactured in foreign countries and mailed into the United States. China is the main supplier of fentanyl to the U.S. according to a recent government report.
“Fentanyl is an alarming and deadly threat to our region,” Buchanan said. “American border patrol agents are on the front lines and need the resources to prevent these deadly drugs from entering the country.”
The nation’s law enforcement community is also responding to increasing danger from the outbreak of fentanyl and its spinoffs. Last year, the Drug Enforcement Administration sent out an urgent alert to police, paramedics, firefighters and other first-responders warning them about the mortal risk of coming into contact with these dangerous drugs.
A lethal dose of fentanyl can be as small as two or three grains of salt.
To cut down on drugs entering the U.S. through the mail, Buchanan is also a co-sponsor of the Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention Act or STOP Act. The bipartisan bill requires more intensive screening at U.S. Postal Service facilities.
The Congressman has been an active leader in addressing the opioid crisis in Florida. Last year, Buchanan was successful in securing millionsof dollars in funding for our area of Southwest Florida to confront the opioid epidemic.
Congressman Buchanan has consistently pushed to raise awareness of the Suncoast’s drug problems including chairing a hearing specifically examining the impact of addiction on families and children. Buchanan also hosted a roundtable in Bradenton, Fla. with local police officers, medical professionals and stakeholders and led a meeting of the bipartisan 29-member Florida congressional delegation in Washington, DC where members heard testimony from anti-drug experts.
In 2014, the Food and Drug Administration and the Drug Enforcement Administration adopted Buchanan’s proposal to make it more difficult for abusers to obtain certain highly addictive narcotics.