Federal Bill Would Create "Schedule A," Allowing 5 Year Unilateral Bans On Analogs

By 5-HT2A · Jun 17, 2017 · ·
  1. 5-HT2A
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    Congress is considering a bill that would expand the federal government's ability to pursue the war on drugs, granting new power to the attorney general to set federal drug policy.


    The bipartisan legislation, sponsored by powerful committee chairs in both chambers of Congress, would allow the attorney general to unilaterally outlaw certain unregulated chemical compounds on a temporary basis. It would create a special legal category for these drugs, the first time in nearly 50 years that the Controlled Substances Act has been expanded in this way. And it would set penalties, potentially including mandatory minimum sentences, for the manufacture and distribution of these drugs.

    “This bill provides federal law enforcement with new tools to ensure those peddling dangerous drugs, which can be lethal, are brought to justice,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who is sponsoring her chamber's version of the bill with Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), said in an emailed statement. “It also explicitly exempts simple possession from any penalties, instead targeting those who manufacture and traffic these drugs and opioids.”

    The bill, introduced last week and known as the as the Stop the Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogues (SITSA) Act of 2017, now moves to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which Grassley chairs and where Feinstein is the top-ranking Democrat. The House bill is listed as HR 2851.

    Under current law, all psychoactive substances are placed in one of five “schedules” designating the drugs' risk of abuse and medical potential. Schedule 1 is the most restrictive, reserved for drugs such as LSD, heroin and marijuana. Schedule 5 is the least restrictive category, which includes medications such as low-dose codeine cough syrup.

    Illicit-drug manufacturers wishing to avoid these designations often make subtle changes to a drug's chemistry, creating slightly different, and hence legal, substances that produce similar psychoactive effects in users.

    “Illegal drug traffickers and importers are able to circumvent the existing scheduling regime by altering a single atom or molecule of a currently controlled substance in a laboratory, thereby creating a substance that is lawful, but often highly dangerous, addictive and even deadly,” Grassley and Feinstein said in a fact sheet on the Senate bill.

    The SITSA Act would create a new schedule, Schedule A, for substances that are chemically similar to already-regulated drugs. The attorney general would be able to place new compounds in Schedule A for a period of up to five years. Critics say this amounts to giving the attorney general the power to unilaterally write federal drug policy.

    The bill “gives the attorney general a ton of power in terms of scheduling drugs and pursuing penalties,” said Michael Collins, a deputy director at the Drug Policy Alliance. “This is a giant step backwards, and really it's doing the bidding of Jeff Sessions as he tries to escalate the war on drugs.”

    Under current policy, an attorney general may temporarily schedule a substance for up to two years and only after demonstrating the drug's “history and current pattern of abuse; the scope, duration and significance of abuse; and what, if any, risk there is to the public health.”

    The new bill extends the temporary scheduling duration to five years for Schedule A substances and eliminates the requirement for analyzing the drug's abuse record and its potential risk to public health.

    The bill is partially a response to a spike in overdose deaths from the powerful synthetic opiate fentanyl and chemically similar drugs in recent years. Fentanyl's “uncontrolled synthetic analogues have come to represent the deadly convergence of the synthetic drug problem and the opioid epidemic,” Feinstein and Grassley wrote. The bill adds 13 synthetic analogues of fentanyl to Schedule A immediately.

    But critics are worried that the bill's language could be used to justify bans on all manner of substances that are not particularly lethal or dangerous. The drug known as kratom is one particular area of concern. Experts say the risks with using the drug are “remarkably low,” and people who take it say it has helped them quit using alcohol, opiates and other, much deadlier substances.

    Because the drug's primary chemicals act in a fashion similar to some opioids, kratom advocates fear that the new bill would allow the Justice Department to outlaw the drug, as it tried unsuccessfully to do last year.

    Some experts say that the fentanyl epidemic is proving to be so lethal that it may be worthwhile to experiment with different legislative approaches, even if they come with drawbacks.

    “The fentanyls are so awful that I think it is entirely reasonable to try a fentanyl supply control strategy that has only a very modest chance of success,” said Jonathan Caulkins, a drug-policy expert at Carnegie-Mellon University. He added that it might be wise, however, to include automatic sunset provisions to such strategies in case they prove ineffective.

    Original Source

    Written by: Christopher Ingraham, Jun 16, 2017, Congress is considering a bill that would expand Jeff Sessions’s power to escalate the war on drugs, The Washington Post

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Comments

  1. nisha078
    hey

    The Congress is old about 50 years old legislation and uncontrolled analogs.the new bill is effective and give tons of power in terms of scheduling drugs.
    Nisha Support
  2. Lain Iwakura
    This law will do absolutely nothing to stop drug use illicit or otherwise. The major synthetic drug that is seeing heavy use these days is Fetanyl and that has been Schedule II for a very long time. When will they learn that banning drugs does not stop the use of said drugs? Besides this law is simply expanding the power of the attorney general which is quite worrysome to me. The democrats and republicans are all the same to me and constantly collude to manipulate and control the public. Such bipartisan support for bills like this proves my point. The real motive for this law's passage is more security theater and propaganda to convince the ignorant public at large that the drug war somehow "works" and that drug use can be lowered through the old fashioned way of banning everything in sight. When will they just admit they are spewing bs and that drug use can never be lowered through government involvement?
      perro-salchicha614 likes this.
    1. Nikkitwerks
      That's so true.
  3. ladywolf2012
    Thanks, Lain, for a well-thought-out statement. I confess to having slightly mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, giving even more power to the attorney general and the two parties is horrifying to me. We're only just coming to our senses in this country around the weed issue, and now they want to outlaw analogues?

    On the other hand, I have gathered from what I have read that the business of analogue drugs is dark and unstable and unpredictable--that much of what is available out there is untested and can potentially be harmful to the consumer. People make reports of thinking they are ordering one thing, and ending up with something altogether different. I don't know how this could be best controlled--but I do agree that Big Brother is not the way to go!
  4. Mr Hyde
  5. Mr Hyde
  6. Addydawn
    This will likely include synthetic marijuana as well.
  7. Mr Hyde
    Good the opiate crisis is a plague. Anyone who smokes synthetic weed is an idiot.
  8. hookedonhelping
    I can't stand that Keebler Elf looking POS. It's truly sad when you yearn for the day when these old men with an authoritarian mentality bite the dust. I can't help but place some blame on China. Without their mass production of these analogs, this wouldn't be a topic of discussion. Sadly this will be applied to all classes of drugs, potentially lethal or not. And with Kratom already in the class hairs of the FDA.. It's about to get real boring in the U.S. for a lot of people.
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