Legislation could help post office curb illegal drugs

Published Feb 3, 2018 at 4:00pm

The nation’s opioid problem is a complicated one that will take a long time to solve. Unfortunately, that means many more people will likely overdose and die.

Congress is considering a pending bill that could drastically reduce the supply of dangerous drugs and, in turn, slow the death toll.

The Synthetic Trafficking & Overdose Prevention Act, or STOP Act would, among other things, require the U.S. Postal Service to collect advanced electronic data on incoming packages in the same fashion that private mail carriers like UPS and FedEx have been doing since 2002.

The lack of such data on packaging has allowed large amounts of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids to be shipped into the United States without detection. Those drugs have killed thousands.

The bill’s sponsor is U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio.

Congressional hearings were held on the opioid epidemic and STOP recently, the day after the release of a Senate report that documented how easily someone can obtain fentanyl, which was involved in almost 60 percent of all Ohio’s overdose deaths in 2016.

Much of the fentanyl that arrives here is shipped from illegal pharmacies in China through the Postal Service. It is easily available through the internet, and the report found many examples of fentanyl being shipped directly to customers.

An investigation found that in the dozen-plus years after 9/11, the Postal Service did nothing to recognize and prepare for the increase in international mail, and, today, 318 million international packages enter the U.S. annually with little to no screening from customs officials.

That means fentanyl, which is 50 times stronger than heroin, is flowing freely, killing thousands. Sen. Portman’s bill could help in this fight against illegal opioids.