HARRISBURG – Law enforcement would be better equipped to combat the opioid crisis under a bill sponsored by Rep. Clint Owlett (R-Tioga/ Bradford/Potter) and passed unanimously in the House today.
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.
“The opioid crisis has hit our communities and our families so hard, and it does not discriminate based on age, race, economic status or geography,” Owlett said. “Carfentanil is a particularly potent and dangerous drug that even puts our public safety and health care providers at risk when they try to help someone who is using it.
“We need to do all we can to keep this drug out of our Commonwealth,” he added.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, carfentanil 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. It 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 Senate for consideration.
Representative Clint Owlett
Pennsylvania House of Representatives