Extended ban on fentanyl look-alikes prevents many SD drug cases from being thrown out

Opioid Crisis

This week, Congress passed a temporary ban on fentanyl look-alikes, which is now headed to the president’s desk.

In February of 2018, the Drug Enforcement Administration issued an emergency two-year order that made all fentanyl-related substances illegal. According to the South Dakota U.S. Attorney, Ron Parsons, that’s had a substantial impact nationally as well as locally; leading to a 50% decrease in fentanyl-related substances found across the United States.

Parsons said Fentanyl and its analogues are responsible for dozens of overdoses and multiple deaths in South Dakota.  

“There is no legitimate reason for anyone to possess or distribute fentanyl analogues. They are weapons of mass destruction, capable of killing a human being almost immediately upon ingestion or contact in extremely minute amounts.”

Ron Parsons, U.S. Attorney for South Dakota
U.S. Dept. of Justice photo

Drug dealers have typically ordered fentanyl and fentanyl-like drugs from China over the Dark Web, which are then shipped through the mail.

However, the South Dakota’s U.S. Attorney reports increasingly Mexican cartels, which make most of the methamphetamine and heroin smuggled across the border, have begun making fentanyl and related substances and selling them through their distribution networks.

The Justice Department wants a permanent class-wide ban on fentanyl analogs, putting them in the same category as heroin and cocaine. However, opposition by criminal justice reform groups and researchers has lead Congress to put off a class-wide ban for 15 months, in order to give the Government Accountability Office time to study how the policy will affect scientific research.

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