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Nessel Praises Fentanyl-related Compounds Classification, Calls on Congress to Make Permanent

LANSING – Following a call to extend the temporary classification of fentanyl-related compounds as Schedule I drugs by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and other attorneys general across the country, President Donald Trump last week signed a law that prolongs the emergency classification for 15 months.

The law – S. 3201, the Temporary Reauthorization and Study of the Emergency Scheduling of Fentanyl Analogues Act – extends a temporary order issued by the Drug Enforcement Agency to classify fentanyl-related compounds as Schedule I drugs. Trump signed the law the day it was set to expire, Feb. 6, 2020. It will be in effect until May 6, 2021.

Schedule I drugs are defined as substances with no currently accepted medical use and possess a high potential for abuse. In 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 40 percent of the 72,000 drug-related deaths involved fentanyl or a fentanyl-related compound.

Meanwhile, another piece of legislation – S. 2701, the Federal Initiative to Guarantee Health by Targeting (FIGHT) Fentanyl Act – would permanently classify fentanyl-related compounds as Schedule I drugs. The FIGHT Fentanyl Act was introduced Oct. 24, 2019 by U.S. Sens. Rob Portman, R-OH, and Joe Manchin, D-WV, and has been referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

“I’m glad that members of Congress and the president put aside their differences to extend the classification of fentanyl-related compounds as Schedule I drugs,” Nessel said. “The statistics behind these dangerous substances are staggering, and the harm they cause to families is far more important than partisan politics. But Congress needs to go further and take lasting action by adopting the FIGHT Fentanyl Act and making the classification of fentanyl-related compounds permanent.”

The FIGHT Fentanyl Act will ensure law enforcement agencies and courts retain the tools needed to keep those trafficking this deadly substance off the streets.

Nessel and Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost were lead cosigners on a letter issued to lawmakers urging them to adopt the FIGHT Fentanyl Act. The letter was sent in collaboration with the National Association of Attorneys General.

Attorneys general from every state, territory and the District of Columbia signed the letter in support of the act’s adoption, which led NAAG to endorse the legislation as one of its official policy positions. This type of endorsement typically only occurs about a dozen times per year.