Background

The Drug Enforcement Administration has announced its intent to issue an order adding to schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act all fentanyl-related substances that are not currently listed in any CSA schedule, including those that have not yet been introduced into the U.S. market.

The DEA states that it has issued six temporary scheduling orders to control nine substances structurally related to fentanyl since 2015 but that this approach has not been completely effective in preventing the emergence of these synthetic opioids. This is because when the DEA temporarily controls a given substance structurally related to fentanyl, illicit manufacturers located abroad begin producing new such substances through other structural modifications.

The forthcoming order will impose regulatory requirements under the CSA on the importation, exportation, manufacture, distribution, reverse distribution, possession, research and conduct of instructional activities, and chemical analysis of all currently unlisted fentanyl-related substances as well as administrative, civil, and criminal remedies with respect to persons who fail to comply with such requirements or otherwise violate the CSA with respect to these substances. It will be effective on the date it is published in the Federal Register, which will not take place before Jan. 29, and will remain in effect for two years, with a possible extension of one year.

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