Most of the deadly fentanyl being pumped into Ohio communities arrives from China via the U.S. Postal Service, a pathway that will soon be shut down thanks to a new federal law, says U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH).
“The refrain I hear across Ohio about the opioid epidemic is clear: People are desperate for hope, and they want solutions,” Portman wrote in a op-ed that appeared in the Cincinnati Enquirer in which he touts the new legislation signed by President Trump.
Portman said he was able to work several of his previous initiatives into the law, including his bipartisan STOP Act, which helps stop the influx of fentanyl that is shipped into Ohio through the Postal Service, as well as his bipartisan Improving CARE Act, which expands access to treatment for people struggling with addiction, and his bipartisan CRIB Act, which helps newborns suffering from addiction.
This is real progress and “help is on the way” to opioid racked Ohio communities, he said in a news release.
“We’ve made progress recently, and we have much more to do. But I’m proud that Congress took another important step to make the federal government a better partner through new legislation the president just signed into law,” the senator wrote in the op-ed.
Portman said fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, is 50 times more potent than heroin. And most people don’t know that it’s being dumped on U.S. cities by China.
“Based on an 18-month investigation by a congressional subcommittee I chair, we know that fentanyl is mostly shipped into our communities from China through our U.S. Postal Service,” according to Portman. “Our legislation addressed that.”
The legislation – dubbed the STOP Act – was included in the new opioid law the president signed two weeks ago. The new law closes a loophole in the U.S. Postal Service’s international mail screening that drug traffickers have exploited.
“It requires the Postal Service to receive electronic advance data on packages entering the U.S., something private carriers are already required to do,” Portman writes. “This information allows law enforcement to identify suspicious packages, test them and seize fentanyl.”
He believes the law will act as a “tourniquet,” stemming the flow of fentanyl into Ohio and allowing prevention, treatment, and recovery programs to take hold.
“The new opioid law also expands access to treatment,” Portman writes. “When someone is ready to get over their addiction, treatment centers have to be ready to accept them. I’ve talked with too many families who have lost loved ones from overdoses after they were turned away from a treatment center because there wasn’t enough space.”
The new opioid law also helps protect pregnant and postpartum moms affected by addiction as well as babies born dependent on drugs.
“These innocent babies have to be taken through the process of withdrawal as infants – and the long-term health effects are uncertain,” according to Portman.
Earlier this year, Portman introduced CARA 2.0 to build on the success of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), his bipartisan legislation that became law in 2016.
“A number of provisions from CARA 2.0 are in this new law, including $60 million for a plan of safe care for babies born dependent on drugs,” he writes. “Through the commitment I have seen at the local level and this new law’s renewed partnership from the federal level, I believe we can turn the corner and take back our communities from the grips of addiction.”
– – –
Anthony Accardi is a writer and reporter for The Ohio Star.