Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler, president of the District Attorney’s Association of the State of New York, on Monday, Dec. 16, announced the group's support for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s recently announced initiative to ban fentanyl analogues, dangerous substances that are related to, but slightly different than the synthetic opioid fentanyl.
Such a ban would close a significant loophole in the ability of law enforcement to control many dangerous chemicals and would be an important weapon in fighting the opioid epidemic gripping New York and the nation.
Under current New York law, substances are only subject to regulation if they are listed on one of five schedules in the New York State Public Health Law.
Fentanyl is listed on one of those schedules, but many chemicals that are similar to fentanyl, the so-called fentanyl analogues, are not, because they have chemistry that is slightly different than fentanyl, chemistry developed by drug dealers specifically to enable them to sell drugs to those who abuse opioids.
As a result, law enforcement is powerless to investigate and prosecute those who manufacture, import into New York, or sell fentanyl analogues because the analogues are not illegal substances.
Though not illegal, those analogues may still be quite deadly.
The governor’s proposal would treat fentanyl analogues like other controlled substances, allowing for the investigation and prosecution of those who deal in those substances. The proposal would also give New York State’s Commissioner of Health the power to add additional fentanyl analogues to those Public Health Law schedules as those analogues appear on the market.
“I and DAASNY have long supported legislation to address the problem of fentanyl analogues,” said Hoovler. “Those analogues can be dangerous, even deadly drugs, but the hands of law enforcement have been tied by laws that have failed to regulate those analogues as the dangerous substances that they are. It’s high time that New York State acted to close a gaping loophole in its regulation of those substances, so that law enforcement can have a fighting chance to stay ahead of the drug dealers that are peddling dangerous fentanyl analogues to those who abuse opioids.”