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Vern Buchanan backing bill to help block synthetic opioids from entering country

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

In 2015, Manatee and Sarasota counties had the highest and second-highest number respectively of fentanyl-related deaths per capita in the state, according to the Florida Medical Examiners Commission.

So it should come as no surprise that Congressman Vern Buchanan is signing on as a co-sponsor for the INTERDICT Act, which aims to stop the flow of fentanyl and other drugs by providing border agents with drug-detecting chemical screening devices at ports of entry and more personnel, including scientists.

They will detect drugs being shipped into the U.S. from Mexico, China and other countries.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that wasn’t that well known until it was revealed to be the drug that killed Prince last year. It’s considered 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine and 25 to 50 times more powerful than heroin, depending on the grade.

One gram of pure fentanyl can be cut into approximately 7,000 doses for street sale; manufacturing the drug also requires relatively little technical knowledge. It’s medically administered in a variety of ways, including a spray form taken orally and a lollipop

“Fentanyl is a real and alarming threat to the Suncoast,” Buchanan said. “American border patrol agents are on the front lines and need the resources to block these deadly drugs from entering our country.”

The INTERDICT Act also authorizes $15 million in federal resources for new portable screening devices and the hiring of new scientists.

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Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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