As overdose cases surge in Syracuse, U.S. Rep. John Katko urged his colleagues in the Senate to pass his bill that aims to combat the spread of synthetic drugs.
Katko, R-Camillus, issued a statement Thursday following a syracuse.com report that more than 50 people have overdosed on synthetic marijuana this week in Syracuse.
"It is clear that we need immediate action to end the synthetic drug crisis plaguing our community," he said. "Our law enforcement must be given the tools they need to ban these substances as soon as they start appearing on our streets."
Katko is the sponsor of a bill, the Stop the Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogues Act, that would create a new schedule within the Controlled Substances Act for synthetic compounds. It would also add 13 synthetic fentanyl analogues to the new schedule.
The legislation includes stiff penalties for foreign manufacturers and importers of synthetic drugs.
The House passed Katko's bill by a 239-142 vote last month. Most Republicans and 42 Democrats supported the measure, known as SITSA.
The bill awaits action in the Senate, where it has bipartisan support. The Senate legislation is sponsored by U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican, and cosponsored by U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Amy Klobuchar, both Democrats.
There is no indication of when, or if, the Senate will consider the bill.
"We cannot allow the surge in synthetic drug overdoses that we saw in Syracuse this week become the new normal, and I urge my colleagues in the Senate to act on this bipartisan measure so that we can combat the frightening rise of synthetic substances across our nation," Katko said.