Congressman Vern Buchanan

Representing the 16th District of Florida

Congress Sends Sweeping Anti-Heroin Legislation To President’s Desk

Jul 13, 2016
Press Release
Bill Co-Sponsored by Buchanan Tackles Drug Addiction Epidemic

Includes Prevention, Treatment and Education

WASHINGTON – Congressman Vern Buchanan applauded congressional passage today of landmark legislation aimed at reducing heroin and opioid addiction across America.

“This is a major step toward breaking heroin’s deadly grip on America,” Buchanan said. “The president should sign this bill into law as quickly as possible so vital anti-drug resources will begin flowing to hard-hit communities in Florida and elsewhere.”

The legislation includes a number of anti-drug provisions that Buchanan has supported.

They include:

  • Grants for drug treatment and prevention to states, nonprofits and municipalities.
  • Treatment funds for pregnant mothers and babies born addicted to opioids.
  • Creation of a task force responsible for reviewing federal guidelines for prescribing opioids.
  • Preventing the over-prescription of painkillers for veterans seeking care by re-examining current pain management treatment guidelines.
  • Creation of veterans-specific drug treatment courts and programs.
  • Requiring the government to evaluate the effectiveness of federal grant programs tasked with curbing the heroin and opioid crisis.
  • Improving the ability of the U.S. to prosecute international drug kingpins without risking the public disclosure of classified information in court proceedings. 

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 and is currently experiencing a spike in drug overdoses. Palmetto police chief Scott Tyler recently described the increase as “alarming,” according to the Bradenton Herald.

The number of heroin overdose deaths in Florida increased 900 percent from 2010-2014, according to the Florida Medical Examiners Commission. 

“The drug abuse and overdose situation in my district is horrible,” Buchanan said. “Local groups are doing amazing work fighting the heroin crisis but they need more help – which this bill provides.”

The Congressman has been an active leader in addressing the heroin crisis in Florida. In May, Buchanan chaired a hearing examining the impact of addiction on kids. Earlier this year he hosted a roundtable in Bradenton, Fla. with local police officers, medical professionals and stakeholders. Buchanan also recently chaired a meeting of the bipartisan 29-member Florida congressional delegation in Washington, DC where members heard testimony from Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, author of many of the provisions that passed the U.S. House today, and anti-drug experts. Buchanan serves as co-chair of the Florida delegation.

Buchanan also has been at the forefront of the fight to crack down on drug abuse for years. 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.