On Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to permanently classify fentanyl-related substances as Schedule I drugs and therefore increase federal penalties for fentanyl dealers and users. 

Since fentanyl is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for medical use, it was categorized as a Schedule II drug until former President Donald Trump temporarily classified illicit fentanyl-related substances as Schedule I, but that classification is set to expire at the end of 2024.

The Halt All Lethal Trafficking of Fentanyl Act (HALTFA) amends the Controlled Substances Act, which was initially passed in 1971 and categorized federally regulated substances into one of five schedules.

The HALTFA passed 289 to 133. Only one Republican, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Kentucky) voted against the bill, and 74 Democrats voted for it. The bill also obtained support from the Biden Administration.

Massie accused the bill of expanding the "War on Drugs," which he said detracts from addressing other problems, such as regaining control of the U.S.-Mexico border. 

Democrats opposed to the bill argued that stricter penalties would unfairly impact minorities. 

U.S. Rep. Dale Strong (R-Madison) took to Twitter on Thursday morning to praise his fellow lawmakers for the bill’s passage.

“Fentanyl is an EPIDEMIC plaguing our great nation,” Strong said. “It is destroying American families. I’m glad to take a stand with my colleagues and pass H.R. 467, the ‘HALT Fentanyl Act.”

In a thread, Strong further claimed the act will better equip law enforcement and support research pertaining to fentanyl-related substances. 

To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email will.blakely@1819news.com or find him on Twitter and Facebook.

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