KXLG received Representative Dusty Johnson’s weekly column and he addressed “America’s Drug Crisis.”
The number that are expressed within the article are astonishing the growth of illegal drug use.
His column below:
In 2021, the US Customs and Border Patrol (USCBP) seized 11,201 pounds of fentanyl—a 234% increase from 2020. This amount of fentanyl is enough to kill every American seven times. Fentanyl is the deadliest drug in the United States and is 50 times more powerful than heroin. This lethal drug has made its way into our homes and communities, accounting for 64,000 of the over 100,000 drug overdose deaths in 2021—the highest number ever. Drug overdoses from fentanyl skyrocketed last year, and it is now reported as the number one cause of death for Americans ages 18-45. Fentanyl has killed more young adults in America than COVID-19, car accidents, suicide, cancer, heart disease, or homicide. Last September, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued its first public safety alert in six years due to the “alarming increase in the lethality and availability of fake prescription pills containing fentanyl.”
In addition to fentanyl, USCBP seized over 41,000 pounds of marijuana, and over 8,500 pounds of cocaine—almost double what was seized in Fiscal Year 2020. America is facing a drug crisis and it has to be addressed at every level.
Earlier this week, I met with Moody County Sherriff Troy Wellman to discuss the opiate and border crises. Sherriff Wellman told me that in December 2021, his deputies assisted in a drug bust of an organization that was bringing in 20 pounds of meth into South Dakota per week. This meth was initially smuggled across our southern border.
The White House needs to start by securing the border. I have taken additional measures to contain our border and keep our nation secure by supporting the REMAIN in Mexico Act. This bill requires immigrants who claim asylum but fail the “credible fear test” to remain in Mexico while a decision is made about their asylum claim. I am also a cosponsor of the Finish the Wall Act which directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to resume construction of the border wall.
The drug crisis also has to be combatted at the local level. Like my conversation with Sherriff Wellman shows—drugs coming across our border don’t stay in the border states, they are traveling over 1,000 miles to get to states like South Dakota. We need local law enforcement prepared to handle situations the drug crisis is presenting. That’s why I am a cosponsor of the Invest to Protect Act, a bill that makes critical investments in local police departments, for training, body cameras, mental health resources, recruitment & retention that are needed to be resources for help in our local communities.
Fentanyl and related substances must be permanently classified as Schedule I drugs—drugs that are not accepted for medical use and have a high potential for abuse. This week, Congress extended the Schedule I classification for fentanyl related substances from February 18 to March 11, 2022. It is incredibly dangerous if the DEA and Biden Administration allow this classification to expire. The current situation at the border is unacceptable. I will continue to work with my colleagues to find viable solutions to protect the health and safety of our communities.