CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is urging Congress to fix a loophole involving Fentanyl, along with a group of 52 state and territory attorneys general.
The loophole currently allows those trafficking Fentanyl to stay ahead of law enforcement.
"As the opioid epidemic continues to destroy communities and families across the state, those responsible for perpetuating the devastation are relentlessly finding more ways to inflict harm," Morrisey said in an interview with The West Virginia Record.
Morrisey said Fentanyl and its analogues are becoming more and more common, resulting in more overdose deaths than seen in the past.
"We must do everything in our power to ensure that this deadly substance is policed the same as any other illegal drug," Morrisey said.
The 52 attorneys general sent the letter last week to Congress in support of the Stopping Overdoses of Fentanyl Analogues Act (SOFA).
“The SOFA Act has the power to eliminate the current loophole which keeps the controlled substance scheduling system one step behind those who manufacture fentanyl analogues and then introduce these powders into the opioid supply," Morrisey said. "West Virginia has lost far too many of her sons and daughters. We will not sit idly by and allow more senseless death to occur."
SOFA contains catch-all language and will allow the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to schedule all newly-modified fentanyl analogues.
Fentanyl can be a safe painkiller when used as prescribed by a doctor, but it and its analogues manufactured illicitly can be lethal when used outside of a doctor's supervision.
Attorneys general from Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming sent the letter to Congress.
The letter was sent on Aug. 23. The attorneys general expressed their support of the passage of SOFA in the letter.
"There is little doubt that the nation’s ongoing battle against heroin and opiates is unlike any other public health emergency," the letter states. "It touches all corners of our society. States and localities are on the front line of this crisis and are a large part of winning the battle from both a law enforcement and public health perspective. We are grateful for the steps that Congress has taken to assist our states, including passing the International Narcotics Trafficking Emergency Response by Detecting Incoming Contraband with Technology (INTERDICT) Act earlier this year."
The letter goes on to say that while there is still much work to be done to address the opioid crisis in the country, the passage of SOFA was an important piece of legislation.