September 27, 2018

Warren Unveils Legislation to Help States and Municipalities Detect Fentanyl & Other Dangerous Synthetic Opioids

Senator Also Co-Sponsors Bill to Support and Protect Law Enforcement from Harmful Fentanyl Exposure

Text of STOP Fentanyl Deaths Act (PDF) | Text of POWER Act (PDF)

Washington, DC - United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) introduced the Surveillance and Testing of Opioids to Prevent (STOP) Fentanyl Deaths Act to assist states and municipalities in identifying the dangerous synthetic opioid fentanyl in both fatal and nonfatal drug overdoses.  This measure, which is a Senate companion to a bipartisan bill introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressmen Annie Kuster (D-N.H.) and Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.), was incorporated this week into bipartisan legislation to address the opioid crisis.

Senator Warren also co-sponsored the bipartisan Providing Officers with Electronic Resources (POWER) Act which would establish a new grant program at the Department of Justice (DOJ) for police departments across the country to purchase drug interdiction devices to screen for fentanyl and other dangerous synthetic opioids.

"Communities need our help in the fight against the opioid epidemic," said Senator Warren. "By providing our public health and law enforcement officials with another tool for detecting dangerous substances such as fentanyl, these bills will help us stop the spread of opioids in our communities while saving countless lives in the process."

The STOP Fentanyl Deaths Act would establish a new grant program to support public health officials in efforts to detect fentanyl, its analogues, or other synthetic opioids by helping develop standards for safely handling these dangerous substances, including for emergency personnel, and portable testing devices that can be utilized by law enforcement and public health officials. Additionally, the bill would expand the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) fentanyl surveillance program to include all 50 states and territories of the United States in order to help utilize all available information on fentanyl and its analogues.

The POWER Act would allow state, local, tribal, and territorial law enforcement organizations to access interdiction devices, which are high-tech, portable, and currently used by law enforcement to screen for fentanyl and other drugs at ports of entry.  This legislation was originally introduced by Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and is also co-sponsored by Senators Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Shelley Moore-Capito (R-W.Va.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

Fentanyl, an extremely potent synthetic opioid that has continued to fuel the opioid epidemic, is virtually undetectable without advanced equipment.  The STOP Fentanyl Deaths Act and POWER Act will provide resources and support to federal, state, and local officials, including law enforcement, first responders, public health officials, Customs and Border Protection, and other agencies, in efforts to detect fentanyl in our communities.