Extension Risks Recreating Same Harms & Racial Injustices—Informed by Fear & Mythology, Rather than Science—of 1980s Crack-Cocaine Hysteria for Fentanyl
Washington, D.C.—In response to the Biden Administration and the Department of Justice announcing their support for a seven-month extension of the Trump Administration’s temporary class-wide emergency scheduling of fentanyl-related substances, Grant Smith, Deputy Director of the Office of National Affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance, released the following statement:
"We can’t keep doing the same thing over and over expecting to get different results, and yet that is exactly what the Administration is doing when it comes to fentanyl. We’ve seen how this story plays out, specifically with crack-cocaine in the 1980’s. Law enforcement-driven, media-perpetuated hysteria results in severe mandatory minimum sentences and extreme racial disparities.
At a time when policymakers are finally achieving progress on undoing these past harms, it’s incomprehensible how they could even consider putting new laws on the books that have the potential to recreate this pain and devastation on Black, Latinx and Indigenous communities all over again. Because, make no mistake, these communities are the ones that have always borne the brunt of the drug war, and fentanyl will be no different. In fact, it’s already happening in the astronomical rise of fentanyl-related prosecutions we have seen thus far.
We call on Congress and the Administration to rethink these efforts to double-down on fear-based, enforcement-first approaches, and instead invest in public health alternatives, such as the STOP Fentanyl Act being considered in the House, which provides a comprehensive health and evidence-based response to fentanyl and fentanyl-like substances.”