The Drug Enforcement Agency will designate all illicit analogue forms of the powerful opioid fetanyl as a schedule one drug on an emergency basis, the Department of Justice announced Thursday, equipping the agency to more effectively combat a major contributor to the swelling opioid epidemic.
Fentanyl, as well as a number of powerful derivatives like carfentanil, was already a scheduled substance under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Scheduling is the process, set up by the CSA, by which drugs are classified “depending upon the drug’s acceptable medical use and the drug’s abuse or dependency potential.” Schedule one drugs have high potential for abuse and no redeeming medical or industrial use. Fentanyl itself, which is sometimes prescribed as a painkiller, is a schedule two drug.
However, overseas producers of fentanyl often seek to dodge U.S. regulations by making small changes to the molecular structure of the substances they ship to the United States. This creates fentanyl analogues not technically scheduled but which still produce the same powerful and dangerous high.
Previously, one DEA official explained, the administration had been playing “whack-a-mole,” prosecuting such cases under the Federal Analogue Act. That act permits prosecution for the trafficking of drugs which are “substantially similar” to those scheduled under the CSA. However, each prosecution requires individual expert testimony, making the process cumbersome and resource consuming for the DEA and federal prosecutors.
Read more at the Free Beacon.