Attorney General Hunter: Law hinders local law enforcement
OKLAHOMA CITY – Attorney General Mike Hunter and a bipartisan coalition of 44 attorneys general have sent a letter, in cooperation with the National Association of Attorneys General, to congressional leadership calling for the repeal of the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act.
The letter, authored by Attorney General Hunter, Florida Attorney General Pamela Bondi, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh and North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, says the act is a step backward in the collective effort to address the nation’s worsening epidemic of opioid addiction and overdose deaths.
The letter also says the act that was signed into law in April 2016, impedes the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) ability to take action against a drug manufacturer or distributor alleged of wrongdoing.
Attorney General Hunter, who has met with statewide law enforcement agents about what additional resources are needed to combat the epidemic, said agents point to this law as being constraining. In addition, Attorney General Hunter and DEA Oklahoma Officials are working together to combat the opioid epidemic by identifying and targeting manufacturers and distributors, which are contributing to the diversion of opioids into and throughout the state.
“Agents in Oklahoma feel hamstrung and limited in their ability to stop the flow of illicit drugs because of this law,” Attorney General Hunter said. “The standards set by the law hinder law enforcement’s authority to control excessive amounts of opioids flooding the market. The state and federal government need to equip our law enforcement partners with the necessary tools to go after those responsible for fueling the epidemic.
“We are asking Congress to repeal the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act to allow for more effective policing efforts, which will hold corrupt drug manufacturers and distributors accountable and will be a step in the right direction as we work to end this public health crisis.”
The act requires the DEA to show cause before it denies, revokes or suspends a registration for a controlled substance act violation. The order to show cause must specifically state the legal basis for the action and notify the registrant of the opportunity to submit a corrective action plan.
In the letter, the attorneys general quote DEA Chief Administrative Law Judge John J. Mulrooney, II, who writes in a forthcoming article for the Marquette Law Review, the language has created a burden that is nearly impossible to meet.
Mulrooney continues, the new procedure “is akin to a state legislature mandating law enforcement authorities allow shoplifting suspects caught in the act to outline how they intend to replace purloined items on store shelves, or allow bank robbers to round up and return ink-stained money and agree not to rob any more banks. Such mandates sound absurd because they would be absurd.”
To read the letter and see which state attorneys general signed on, here.