Washington, D.C. – The House Judiciary Committee today passed a bipartisan, bicameral bill by voice vote to combat our nation’s synthetic drug epidemic, the Stop the Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogues Act of 2017 (H.R. 2851). House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Congressman John Katko (R-N.Y.), chief sponsor of the bill, issued the statements below on today’s Committee approval of the bill.

Chairman Goodlatte: “The drug epidemic currently plaguing the United States is destroying lives, families, and communities across the United States. It affects rural and urban areas and grandparents, parents, and kids alike. While Congress has taken action to combat the opioid epidemic through the historic Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, it’s clear that we need more tools to combat the ever-growing problem of synthetic drug abuse.

“Today, the House Judiciary Committee has taken action to address this national crisis by passing the Stop the Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogues Act. Criminals can figure out a way to change one molecule in a drug, but the resulting drug is just as dangerous, and often even more so. This bill closes this dangerous loophole by ensuring our laws keep pace with the creation of new, chemically-altered drugs and by providing law enforcement with the tools needed to keep these drugs off of our streets. I applaud Congressman Katko for introducing this bill and urge the House to take it up soon.”

Congressman Katko: “In Central New York and communities nationwide, synthetic opioid use is on the rise and continues to take innocent lives. The Stop the Importation and Trafficking of Synthetics Analogues Act will help stop the unlawful importation and distribution of these dangerous substances and give law enforcement the effective tools they need to keep our communities safe.  I’m grateful for the swift attention of Chairman Goodlatte and the House Judiciary Committee to this critical issue.”

In 2015, over 52,000 Americans died from drug overdoses. Nearly 20 percent of these deaths resulted from an overdose of synthetic opioids like fentanyl, which can be as much as 100 times more powerful than painkillers such as morphine. Additionally, synthetic analogues with street names like K2, Spice, Bath Salts, or Molly are designed to mimic other street drugs like marijuana, LSD, and Ecstasy and can be more potent than the real thing and just as deadly.

Criminal drug manufacturers, largely from China, work continuously to stay ahead of U.S. drug laws by altering the molecular structure of their drugs as soon as the government bans them. The Controlled Substances Act (CSA), which was signed into law over 40 years ago, was designed to protect the public from the dangers associated with drugs and drug use. However, the CSA was not designed to handle the magnitude and speed in which these new psychoactive substances have emerged in our communities. The Stop the Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogues Act updates the CSA to provide swifter action to stop the unlawful importation and distribution of synthetic drugs, and gives law enforcement effective tools to help keep our communities safe. The House Judiciary Committee held a legislative hearing on this bill in June.