Vera Institute On The Need To End Class I Criminal Scheduling Of All Fentanyl Related Substances

Today, Congress included a provision in the stopgap spending bill that extends a Trump-era policy requiring the class-wide scheduling of all fentanyl-related substances until January 28, 2022. This policy was described as a necessary measure to stop rising opioid overdose deaths, however, since it has been in effect, preventable overdose deaths from opioids have continued to increase, as well as the disproportionate criminalization of Black and Latinx people. The Vera Institute of Justice is part of a coalition expressing the need to end the blanket criminalization of all fentanyl-related substances and instead focus on a public health approach to end the opioid crisis.

Marta Nelson, Director of Government Strategy, Advocacy and Partnerships at the Vera Institute of Justice, issues the following statement:

“The facts are clear: we can’t arrest and sentence our way out of the overdose crisis. Instead, Congress must take this growing public health crisis seriously by allowing the temporary Class I criminal scheduling of all fentanyl-related substances to expire in October 2021 and centering instead a public health approach, so that people who are at risk of dying from opioid overdose can receive life-saving medications, treatment, and prevention services. The current approach hasn’t reduced opioid drug overdoses, which continue to rise, and has had a disproportionate impact on Black and Latinx people, who were targeted in close to 70 percent of prosecutions in 2019.”

Related Content