Throughout the week of June 11, 2018, the House of Representatives voted to pass a package of legislation to help combat the rising nation-wide opioid epidemic. Representative Steve Knight (R-CA) voted in support of all the measures.
H.R. 2851, the Stop the Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogues Act, was co-sponsored by Rep. Knight and would give the Attorney General the power to quickly and temporarily schedule a new dangerous drug when it is virtually identical to a currently scheduled drug. The bill is in response to drug traffickers’ and importers’ ability to circumvent scheduling regimes by altering a single molecule of a controlled substance, making it legal but not less dangerous.
H.R. 5009, Jessie’s Law, would ensure medical professional have access to a consenting patient’s complete health information history when making treatment decisions, specifically the history of substance use disorder. This bill is named after a former heroin addict who was mistakenly prescribed opioids after surgery, resulting in her fatal overdose.
H.R. 2147, the Veterans Treatment Improvement Act, would require the Department of Veterans Affairs to hire at least 50 Veterans Justice Outreach (VJO) specialists at eligible medical centers to ensure veterans who become involved in the criminal justice system have greater access to Veterans Treatment Courts (VTCs). Without more VJO specialists, more VTCs cannot be established and existing VTCs are limited in their capacity to handle cases.
H.R. 449, the Synthetic Drug Awareness Act, would require the U.S. Surgeon General to report to Congress on the public health effects of the rise in synthetic drug use among youth aged 12 to 18 years old in order to further educate parents and the medical community on the health effects of synthetics. These drugs are not typically controlled pharmaceutical substances intended for legitimate medical use and contain slightly modified molecular structures of illegal or controlled substances in order to circumvent existing drug laws.
In addition to the bills highlighted above, the House passed 33 other bills that target the opioid epidemic from a variety of angles. “The opioid crisis continues to impact families across this country,” said Rep. Knight. “While this is a step in the right direction, there is still more work to be done to make sure no more American citizens lose their life or the life of a loved one to opioids. We must continue to work diligently and pass bipartisan solutions whenever possible. I look forward to continue working with my colleagues in the House on this important issue.”
Representative Knight is an 18 year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department. He serves on the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force.