• ITVI.USA
    15,845.180
    -15.980
    -0.1%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.806
    0.013
    0.5%
  • OTRI.USA
    21.590
    0.130
    0.6%
  • OTVI.USA
    15,846.760
    -20.840
    -0.1%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    2.950
    -0.570
    -16.2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.610
    0.650
    22%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.370
    -0.240
    -14.9%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.550
    0.210
    6.3%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.320
    0.220
    10.5%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    4.110
    0.250
    6.5%
  • WAIT.USA
    126.000
    0.000
    0%
  • ITVI.USA
    15,845.180
    -15.980
    -0.1%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.806
    0.013
    0.5%
  • OTRI.USA
    21.590
    0.130
    0.6%
  • OTVI.USA
    15,846.760
    -20.840
    -0.1%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    2.950
    -0.570
    -16.2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.610
    0.650
    22%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.370
    -0.240
    -14.9%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.550
    0.210
    6.3%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.320
    0.220
    10.5%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    4.110
    0.250
    6.5%
  • WAIT.USA
    126.000
    0.000
    0%
American ShipperShippingTrade and Compliance

House passes several bills to restrict drug imports

Legislation sent to Senate to curb imports of opioids and synthetic analogues and give FDA more tools to stop illicit drug imports.

   The House last week passed several bills that aim to restrict drug imports.
   It is now up to the Senate to decide on any action to advance the Securing the International Mail Against Opioids Act (STOP Act), the Stop the Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogues (SITSA) Act and the Stop Illicit Drug Importation Act.
   The STOP Act passed the House on Thursday by a vote of 353-52.
   Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and ranking member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., last week committed to advance identical legislation to the Senate floor.
   Speaking Thursday on the Senate floor, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said senators are working to move the legislation, which would require advance electronic data for international mail shipments to the United States, to the floor in “the coming days and weeks.”
   Congress on June 8 released a bipartisan, bicameral agreement on the bill.
   Specifically, the STOP Act (H.R. 5788) would require the U.S. Postal Service to transmit advance electronic data to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on at least 70 percent of international mail arriving in the United States by Dec. 31, and on 100 percent of such mail on Dec. 31, 2020, before such shipments reach the U.S. border, according to a legislative summary.
   “This data will enable CBP to target high-risk shipments, including those containing synthetic opioids, for inspection and seizure,” the summary says.
   The legislation requires USPS to refuse shipments for which the data is not provided and sets forth civil penalties if USPS accepts international mail shipments without the advance data starting in 2021.
   Further, the STOP Act directs the State Department to strengthen international postal agreements and ensure any future agreements preserve the United States’ ability to require advance data on all international mail shipments.
   Private express couriers have been required to provide advance electronic data since 2002, Portman noted in his speech.
   The SITSA Act passed the House Friday by a vote of 239-142.
   The bill would add a new scheduling category — “A” — under the Controlled Substances Act for synthetic drugs and make their import illegal, with a few exceptions.
   The legislation would generally subject Schedule A substances to the same requirements as Schedule I and II drugs under the Controlled Substances Import and Export Act.
   Unapproved importers of Schedule A substances would face up to a life sentence in jail for cases of death or serious bodily injury, while individuals would also face fines of up to $1 million and defendants other than individuals would face fines up to $5 million.
   Some House Democrats opposed the bill, arguing it would give the U.S. attorney general too much authority in determining narcotics to add to Schedule A.
   Several groups voiced their contentions with the bill in recent weeks, including the free market R Street Institute, the American Civil Liberties Union, Drug Policy Institute, Families Against Mandatory Minimums, FreedomWorks, Human Rights Watch and the NAACP.
   Each of those groups, except the R Street Institute, signed onto a June 13 letter to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., expressing their opposition, claiming the bill would “broadly expand” penalties for drug offenses, concentrate power within the Justice Department, punish people lacking criminal intent and “overcriminalize certain behavior.”
   R Street Institute’s qualms included that the bill would eliminate the requirement to consider drugs’ abuse potential, the bill wouldn’t take into account the lethality of individual substances and that practices that restrict access to chemicals drive the market to newer drug development, which negates any positive effect seen from original restriction, according to a press release.
   The bill’s sponsor, Rep. John Katko, R-N.Y., spoke Friday on the House floor in support of the bill before it passed.
   “The potency and danger of synthetic drugs do not only threaten users, we are now seeing local law enforcement and first responders put in harm’s way simply by coming in contact with these often lethal substances,” Katko said in a statement. “The threats synthetic drugs pose to our communities and law enforcement must be stopped.”
   Companion legislation is pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The committee didn’t respond to a request for comment on when it might consider advancing the bill to the Senate floor.
   The House also passed by voice vote on Wednesday the Stop Illicit Drug Importation Act (H.R. 5752), which would streamline and enhance the Food and Drug Administration’s tools to intercept illegal products.
   The bill was referred to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee on Thursday.

Brian Bradley

Based in Washington, D.C., Brian covers international trade policy for American Shipper and FreightWaves. In the past, he covered nuclear defense, environmental cleanup, crime, sports, and trade at various industry and local publications.

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