WASHINGTON (WDTN) – Last week, President Trump signed a sweeping new law aimed at stemming the opioid crisis across the country.
One of the key provisions is an effort to stop illegal drugs being shipped in from overseas through the mail.
Illegal fentanyl shipped through the mail is a major contributor to the epidemic of drug overdoses that killed 72,000 Americans last year.
“In Ohio, fentanyl, which is a synthetic opioid, is the number one killer,” says Senator Rob Portman.
In an effort to crack down, Portman pushed for his bill known as the STOP Act to be included in a sweeping opioid law signed by the President last week.
It requires packaging data be provided to customs agents in advance of all international shipments entering the U.S. by year 2021.
Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander said, “They send so many of this little white powder that’s so dangerous that a small percent of it gets through.”
The aim of the STOP Act is to give customs agents the ability to target high-risk packages for inspection, but some worry the new law could be difficult to enforce after the recent announcement that the U.S. is withdrawing from an international shipping treaty known as the Universal Postal Union.
“There are a number of countries that aren’t even close to being able to provide that in the way the U.S. wants and needs,” says Kate Muth of the International Mailers Advisory Group.
Muth represents American Shipping Companies that oppose withdrawing from the UPU. She says the 150-year-old treaty is essential to providing information needed to stop illegal drug shipments.
The Trump administration says the UPU hurts U.S. manufacturers with high shipping costs compared to countries like China and Singapore.
Supporters of the STOP Act hope for a compromise that allows for information sharing while also balancing the cost of international shipping.