State Representatives Timothy R. Whelan (R-Brewster) and Paul Tucker (D-Salem) are leading a bi-partisan effort to crack down on U-47700, a powerful synthetic opioid from China that has been found responsible in a number of overdose deaths across the country.
Reps. Whelan and Tucker have filed legislation to classify U-47700 as a Class A controlled substance, and to prosecute trafficking of the drug in the same manner as heroin, using the same trigger weights and sentencing guidelines, including a scaled minimum mandatory. HD. 4486, An Act controlling certain synthetic opioids, is currently being co-sponsored by 76 Senators and Representatives from both sides of the aisle.
More commonly known by its street name of “pink” or “pink death,” U-47700 is between 4 and 8 times more potent than heroin, depending on the mixture. Although it was added to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s list of controlled substances more than a year ago, Massachusetts does not currently list U-47700 as a controlled substance.
“The failure to classify this deadly opioid under our state laws is essentially tying the hands of our law enforcement personnel because there is currently no crime an individual selling or possessing this drug can be charged with,” said Rep. Whelan. “The bill Representative Tucker and I have filed will close this loophole, making it easier for law enforcement to stem the drug’s entry into the Commonwealth and to hold dealers and traffickers accountable for their actions.”
Representative Tucker stated, "We are mindful of the need to act quickly and responsibly in urging colleagues to support this bill and get ahead of the dangers presented by this dangerous substance".
U-47700 is manufactured in China and commonly shipped via mail order into the Commonwealth through FedEx, UPS, DHL and other carriers. Several states have enacted emergency declarations to add U-47700 to their controlled substance list, while many other states have already adopted the DEA Schedule of Controlled Substances, which means that it became controlled once the DEA added this substance in November of 2016.
Reps. Whelan and Tucker have exercised a bi-partisan approach and cooperated successfully in the past three years to address gaps in Massachusetts narcotic laws, filing legislation to combat Fentanyl trafficking and most recently to control Carfentanil, both powerful and deadly synthetic opioids that had either lax or no controls in Massachusetts laws. Rep. Tucker retired as the Chief of the Salem Police Department in 2014 after 32 years of service while Rep. Whelan retired as a Sergeant from the Massachusetts State Police after 26 years of service in law enforcement.
HD. 4486 will be reported out of the House Clerk's office for further action later this week.