By Sherrod Brown
We all know what a toll the addiction crisis has taken on our state. Ohioans feel it in their communities, their schools, their workplaces, and their families. I host roundtables across the state and without fail, opioid addiction always comes up.
People are worried about more and more dangerous forms of fentanyl reaching Ohio towns. Traffickers even add illicit fentanyl to other drugs to make them cheaper, more powerful, and more addictive.
That’s why this week I introduced the bipartisan FEND Off Fentanyl Act to impose new, powerful, sanctions targeting the illicit fentanyl supply chain, from the chemical suppliers in China, to the cartels that traffic the drugs from Mexico.
Our bill would strengthen current law and direct the Treasury Department to target, sanction, and block the financial assets of transnational criminal organizations. And it would ensure that we impose sanctions not only on the illicit drug trade, but also on the money laundering that makes it profitable.
Fentanyl is behind the vast majority of overdose deaths in Ohio – more than 80 percent in 2021, the most recent year we have complete data for. In a period of less than four months last year, the DEA and law enforcement partners seized more than 87,000 fentanyl-laced pills in Ohio.
What I hear from Ohioans is that we need an “all-of-the-above” approach to combating this crisis – we need treatment for those already struggling with addiction, and we need prevention, so fewer of these dangerous drugs find their way to our communities.
We have a history of accomplishing things in a bipartisan way on this issue.
In the past, I worked with Republican leaders on the Banking and Housing Committee to strengthen sanctions on China for its role in the illegal fentanyl trade. As transnational criminal organizations and money launderers get more creative and Ohioans are paying the price, we need to update the laws and make them more comprehensive.
It’s why we introduced this bill with my Republican counterpart on the Banking and Housing Committee, Sen. Tim Scott.
I’ve also worked to get resources to Ohio communities to improve treatment options. I worked with Senator Portman to make more treatment beds available for Ohioans struggling with addiction, to provide more support to treat newborns exposed to opioids, and protected Medicaid – our number one tool to get people treatment.
We need to pair those treatment resources with aggressive action to prevent more fentanyl from ever reaching Ohio communities.
Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) represents the state in the U.S. Senate.