Extension of Trump-Era Class-Wide Fentanyl Ban Risks Recreating Same Harms & Racial Injustices—Informed by Fear & Mythology, Rather than Science—of 1980s Crack-Cocaine Hysteria for Fentanyl
Washington, D.C.—In response to the Senate following the House in passing the five-month extension of the Trump Administration’s temporary class-wide emergency scheduling of fentanyl-related substances that the Biden-Harris Administration called for and urgently pushed, Grant Smith, Deputy Director of the Office of National Affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance, released the following statement:
“Despite the Biden-Harris Administration saying that we need to prioritize health-centered approaches to drugs over criminal punishments—and Biden himself apologizing for his role in the harms and racial injustices created from the tough-on-crime drug policies of the 1980s—this Trump-era ban supported by the Administration takes a page right out of that harmful playbook. It essentially recreates the same extreme penalties and mandatory minimums that were used to address the perceived emergency around crack-cocaine use in the 1980s, this time for fentanyl.
Not only have they fast-tracked a new ramped-up era of the drug war, but even more unconscionable, they’ve done it in the immediate aftermath of a gut-wrenching trial in which attorneys for Derek Chauvin attempted to point to George Floyd’s fentanyl use as a cover for his murder. Our country needs a complete overhaul of policing, not an extension of harmful Trump-era punitive drug policies.
We cannot continue down this road, making the same mistakes of the past and ignoring the overwhelming calls for a significantly different approach. Rather, we must divest from our reliance on policing and punishment-first strategies that have consistently failed to prevent overdose deaths or reduce the supply of illicit fentanyl-related substances. And instead, we must prioritize forward-thinking, health- and evidence-based approaches—like what the S.T.O.P. Fentanyl Act calls for—that address the root cause of fentanyl-related overdoses and other associated harms.
The Biden-Harris Administration has the power to save lives—but more criminalization is not the way to do it.”