– Continuing the fight against the state’s opioid epidemic, the House Judiciary Committee today approved a bill sponsored by Rep. Clint Owlett (R-Tioga/ Bradford/Potter) that would give law enforcement another tool in its arsenal.
House Bill 616
would place the drug carfentanil on the list of Schedule II controlled substances. The designation would severely restrict availability of the drug and make it illegal to possess or distribute it without a license or a prescription.
“We must take every opportunity we can to fight back against this scourge impacting communities all across the state,” Owlett said. “Whatever we can do to limit access to the most dangerous drugs has the potential to save lives.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, carfentanil is one of the most potent opioids in existence. It is 10,000 times stronger than morphine and 100 times more powerful than fentanyl. It is commonly used as a tranquilizer for large animals, such as elephants. It is unsafe for human use, and even a very small dose can be lethal.
In fact, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency has warned that carfentanil poses a serious risk to public safety, first responders, medical treatment and lab personnel. The substance can come in a number of forms, including powder, blotter paper, tablets, patch and spray. Some forms can be absorbed through the skin or accidentally inhaled. The DEA warns first responders to have respirators available when handling the drug.
Owlett noted the state secretary of Health has taken steps to place carfentanil on the Schedule II list as a temporary measure under the emergency authority created by the passage of Act 37 of 2016
. However, given the drug’s lethality, legislation making the listing permanent is a necessity.
The bill now goes to the full House for consideration.
Representative Clint Owlett
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Patricia Hippler