WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate has voted to extend the Temporary Reauthorization and Study of the Emergency Scheduling of Fentanyl Analogues Act, a Trump-era piece of legislation that gives the Drug Enforcement Administration authority to classify fentanyl-related substances as Schedule I and subjects fentanyl-related crimes to harsh mandatory minimum sentencing laws.
Aamra Ahmad, senior legislative counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union, highlighted how the continuation of these policies will disproportionately impact Black and Brown communities in the following statement:
“Almost 75 percent of those sentenced in fentanyl cases in 2019 were people of color, and nearly 68 percent of those sentenced for fentanyl analogues were people of color. Fifty years into the war on drugs, it is past time to embrace public health solutions to drug use, rather than outdated policies that have failed to curb demand. A temporary extension of the status quo is plain and simple a continuation of the failed drug war. We need a permanent fix that doesn’t include mandatory minimums as any part of the solution. It’s now time for Congress to take a public health approach to the opioid crisis — one that does not continue to punish Black and Brown people disproportionately.”