Trump Just Signed a Bipartisan Bill to Help Tackle The Opioid Epidemic

A huge step forward.

11 JAN 2018

On Wednesday evening, President Trump signed a bipartisan bill that allocates funds for new screening devices, which can identify packages containing fentanyl.

Fentanyl, an opioid 100 times more potent than morphine and many times that of heroin, is one of the main drugs responsible for the overdose epidemic in the US, with drug deaths involving fentanyl more than doubling from 2015 to 2016.


So far, the trafficking of fentanyl has been difficult to stop. Because the drug is so potent, small and deadly doses are easily concealed in mailed packages.

The new legislation seeks to tackle this problem. It will allocate $9 million for Customs and Border Patrol to buy high-tech, portable and fixed chemical screening devices that will allow agents to identify illicit drugs without even having to open the package.

At a bill signing ceremony in the Oval Office, bracketed by members of Congress from both sides of the aisle, Trump called the bill a "significant step forward" in the fight against opioids.

The President also condemned the drug traffickers, warning the public they are "using our postal system and they're killing our people."

In October, Trump declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency. Since then, democrats have been pushing for increased federal funding for addiction treatment and research, though the President's promise to improve resources still remains unfulfilled.

Despite this, democrats and republicans alike are hopeful that tackling the shipment of fentanyl – much of which is manufactured in China and sent to the US and Mexico via mail – will help stem the crisis.


"This is just the start to what we need as real border protection," said Paul Tencher, author of the senate legislation and chief of staff for Democratic Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts.

President Trump seemed equally as hopeful, given his remarks at the signing, which suggested he wanted an even more aggressive approach than he got.

"So we're going to sign this. And it's a step. And it feels like a very giant step, but unfortunately it's not going to be a giant step, because no matter what you do, this is something that keeps pouring in," he said.

"And we're going to find the answer. There is an answer. I think I actually know the answer, but I'm not sure the country's ready for it yet," he added. 

"Does anybody know what I mean? I think so."