Buchanan Praises Senate Passage of Anti-Heroin Bill
Congressman’s District “Epicenter” of Heroin Crisis in Florida
WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-FL, praised Senate passage today of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), legislation that mirrors an anti-drug plan he has co-sponsored in the U.S. House.
Buchanan represents Manatee County, the epicenter of the heroin crisis in Florida. Manatee County had more heroin overdose deaths per capita than any other Florida county in 2014.
“Yesterday, I held an anti-heroin roundtable in Manatee County and the message I heard was clear: Congress needs to act,” Buchanan said. “The Senate’s action is a positive step, and I am doing everything in my power to make sure that the U.S. House moves with urgency on this issue so that we can get this important legislation signed into law.”
Buchanan is a co-sponsor and champion of two major anti-heroin bills, CARA (H.R. 953) and the STOP ABUSE Act (H.R. 3719). The bills represent a multipronged approach aimed at attacking the supply of drugs, preventing new victims through better education, and helping those already addicted recover and lead productive lives.
Buchanan said he will be speaking with House leaders next week to urge swift consideration of CARA and the STOP ABUSE Act. “We need to get help to our communities and families as quickly as possible to address this crisis,” he said. “I’m committed to using all tools at my disposal to get this bill on the president’s desk and signed into law.”
The number of heroin overdose deaths in Florida increased nine-fold, from 48 to 447, from 2010-2014, according to the Florida Medical Examiners Commission. Spiking heroin use rates are being driven by a “one-two punch” of cheap, available heroin and prescription narcotic abuse, according to CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden.
The sheriffs of Manatee and Sarasota Counties, as well as prominent area substance abuse professionals, have expressed support for the legislative approach Buchanan is taking, which includes strong backing for CARA and for the STOP ABUSE Act.
Key components of the two bills Buchanan is putting his efforts behind include:
• Funding for state, local, and non-profit drug education efforts for teens and seniors.
• Providing grants for treatment and prevention to states, nonprofits, and municipalities.
• Establishing a federal task force to develop best practices for pain medication.
• Creating new veterans-specific drug treatment courts.
• Reauthorizing High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Grants. The program coordinates federal, state and local law enforcement anti-drug trafficking efforts in specific, high-risk counties. According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, 21 Florida counties were designated as HIDTAs last year.
The drug crisis is fueled by the smuggling and shipment of heroin into our country. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, over 90 percent of all heroin in the U.S. originated in Mexico or South America.
For years, Buchanan has been a leader in the fight to crack down on prescription drug abuse. In 2014, the Food and Drug Administration and the Drug Enforcement Agency adopted Buchanan’s proposal to make it more difficult for abusers to obtain certain highly addictive narcotics.