Friday, June 15 (Washington): The R Street Institute—a public policy research organization dedicated to free markets and limited, effective government—urges all members to vote NO on H.R. 2851, the Stop the Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogues of 2017 (“SITSA Act”).

While this bill is well-intentioned, it is not sound public health policy. R Street Harm Reduction Policy Director Dr. Carrie Wade, whose scientific expertise is in the neural mechanisms of addiction, notes that while harm reduction strategies and approaches that reduce demand can benefit the health and welfare of drug users, approaches that restrict supply—such as the SITSA Act—are far less effective.

Wade identifies several concerns with the proposed legislation:

  • This bill would eliminate the requirement to consider the abuse potential of the drug
  • This bill would not take into account the lethality of individual substances
  • This bill has potential to create extreme punitive consequences for substances that may be unlikely to cause addiction
  • Most importantly, practices that restrict access to chemicals simply drive the market to newer drug development, which negates any positive effect seen from original restriction. In addition, these newer drugs will have unknown characteristics and lethal potential.

Efforts to address the growing opioid epidemic are both laudable and necessary, but the SITSA Act is a step in the wrong direction. Members of Congress should reject this bill and instead consider opioid-related legislation focused on treatment-based solutions and harm reduction principles.