New bill, co-sponsored by Harshbarger, calls for action against methamphetamine – Kingsport Times News

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U.S. Rep. Diana Harshbarger
Reporter
U.S. Rep. Diana Harshbarger
Meth Mountain series logo
New legislation aimed at helping to create a plan of action to address the methamphetamine crisis, with a companion bill co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Diana Harshbarger, was signed into law this week.
President Joe Biden signed the Metham- phetamine Response Act of 2021 into law on Monday. The bill included bipartisan support of Republicans and Democrats.
“I am glad to see that a bill I supported on behalf of families in East Tennessee hurt by opioid addiction was signed into law,” Harshbarger, R-Kingsport, said in a statement. “This legislation is a strong bipartisan effort to stop methamphetamine from taking more loved ones from their families.”
The House version of the bill was submitted in March 2021 by U.S. Rep. Scott Peters, D-California, while the Senate version was submitted by U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California.
The bill classifies methamphetamine as an emerging drug threat and directs the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy to come up with a plan of action within 90 days of the signing of the bill.
Officials with the Office of National Drug Control Policy did not respond to questions for comment.
The legislation comes on the heels of the Kingsport Times News package of stories “Meth Mountain,” which detailed the rising problem of methamphetamine, fentanyl and opioids within the area.
New light is also being shed nationwide on the drug problem after Hulu’s “Dopesick” came out last year. The series stars Michael Keaton and casts light on the problems of opioids within the Appalachian region.
Harshbarger, a pharmacist, knows well the problems of drug addiction. The congresswoman serves on the Republican Doctor Caucus and the Bipartisan Addiction and Mental Health Task Force.
“East Tennessee is no stranger to the devastating effects of opioid addiction,” she said. “Synthetic drugs are poisoning our households, and it’s time that our government, health care professionals, and law enforcement worked together to stop this epidemic.”
The current legislation is specific to methamphetamine alone and does not include fentanyl, a synthetic drug that is a rising threat within the community, a spokeswoman said.
Harshbarger has signed on as co-sponsor of the Stopping Overdoses of Fentanyl Analogues Act, which was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in March 2021 by U.S. Rep. Scott Fitzgerald, R-Wisconsin.
That bill, however, has yet to get out of committee.
The bill would permanently place fentanyl as a Schedule I drug. Fentanyl has temporarily been listed as a Schedule I drug, which is the strongest classification of drugs and puts it with the likes of heroin, LSD and ecstasy.
On Feb. 2, Harshbarger spoke about the harms of the drug epidemic on the House floor.
Harshbarger told fellow congressmen about the increasing death toll from overdoses caused by fentanyl, which is inexpensive to manufacture and can be 50 times stronger than heroin, according to the Congressional Record.
She said that much of the illegal drug trafficking can be linked to smuggling operations across the border.
“My home state of Tennessee experienced some 3,400 fatal drug overdoses, which is a 49 percent rise from the previous year,” Harshbarger said in February. “Having served as a community pharmacist for over 30 years in East Tennessee, this is personal for me.”
U.S. Rep. Diana Harshbarger
Reporter
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