KXLG received Rep. Dusty Johnson’s weekly column and spoke about “America’s Drug Crisis.”
The number reflected in the article is a staggering increase in illicit drug use.
His column below:
In 2021, US Customs and Border Protection (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 potent than heroin. This deadly drug has found its way into our homes and communities and is responsible for 64,000 of the more than 100,000 drug overdose deaths in 2021 – the highest number ever. Fentanyl drug overdoses have skyrocketed in the past year, and it is now reported as the number one killer of Americans ages 18 to 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 as “the lethality and availability of counterfeit prescription pills containing fentanyl has increased at an alarming rate.”
In addition to fentanyl, USCBP seized over 41,000 pounds of marijuana and over 8,500 pounds of cocaine — almost doubling the amount in fiscal 2020. America faces a drug crisis that needs to be addressed at every level.
Earlier this week, I met with Moody County Sheriff Troy Wellman to discuss the opiate and border crises. Sherriff Wellman told me his deputies helped in a December 2021 drug bust by an organization that was bringing 20 pounds of meth a week to South Dakota. This meth was originally smuggled across our southern border.
The White House needs to start securing the border. I have taken additional measures to contain our border and protect our nation by supporting them STAY in Mexico law. This law requires immigrants who apply for asylum but fail the “credible fear test” to remain in Mexico while their asylum application is being decided. I am also co-sponsor of the Complete the Wall Act directing the Secretary of Homeland Security to resume construction of the border wall.
The drug crisis must also be tackled at the local level. As my conversation with Sherriff Wellman shows, drugs that come across our border don’t stay in the border states, they travel over 1,000 miles to reach states like South Dakota. We need local law enforcement agencies prepared to deal with situations that the drug crisis brings. That’s why I’m a co-sponsor of the Investment Protection Lawa bill that will make key investments in local police departments for training, body cameras, mental health resources, recruitment and retention needed to be resources to help in our local communities.
Fentanyl and related substances must be permanently classified as Schedule I drugs – drugs that are not approved 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 for the DEA and the Biden administration to phase out this classification. 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.