Illinois is “one of the states hardest hit by fentanyl,” yet Lauren Underwood voted to keep it on our streets.
Now, the Chicago Tribune editorial board is taking her to task in an editorial today for voting against banning fentanyl, which the paper notes is “50 times more potent than heroin” and has taken the lives of 1,187 Illinoisans in 2017 alone.
The Tribune calls her lack of judgement “perplexing” and calls out her lame excuses for her vote saying “that’s no reason to ease off on efforts to curb the supply,” which to be frank, is putting it pretty mildly.
In case you missed it…
Editorial: Deaths? What opioid deaths? 9 Illinois Democrats voted against the ban on fentanyl-like drugs
February 6, 2020
Illinois is one of the states hardest hit by fentanyl and other synthetic opioids, which claimed 1,187 lives here in 2017 — the devastating equivalent of one every seven hours. The bill had passed the U.S. Senate without a dissenting vote. So it’s perplexing that nine House Democrats from Illinois voted against the bill: Sean Casten, Danny Davis, Bill Foster, Chuy Garcia, Robin Kelly, Bobby Rush, Jan Schakowsky, Brad Schneider and Lauren Underwood.
Casten told Crain’s Chicago Business, “You can’t find any instance in history where criminalizing a drug has prevented its use.” He and fellow freshman Lauren Underwood said they prefer to focus on investments in substance abuse treatment and rehabilitation.
Measures to combat addiction and reduce demand for illegal opioids, we agree, are a sound part of any strategy to prevent overdose deaths.
But that’s no reason to ease off on efforts to curb the supply. Most of the fentanyl variants come from producers in China. The administration won a notable success last year when it persuaded the Chinese government to outlaw all fentanyl-related compounds. In turn, it only makes sense for the U.S. to preserve its own prohibition.
Has the policy worked? DEA reported last year that it “has substantially slowed the rate at which new fentanyl-related substances are introduced to, and are encountered in, the illicit market.” In the first quarter of 2019 — thanks in part to Beijing’s 2018 announcement that it would go after these drugs — DEA found no new analogues showing in the illegal trade. Suppliers who found all the loopholes closed apparently had to rethink their business model. …
For the time being, the ban on fentanyl analogues will still be part of the effort. Before the extension runs out next year, we hope Congress will make it permanent — and that the entire Illinois House delegation will unite behind it.