WASHINGTON, D.C. —Tuesday, Congressman David Trone, alongside Reps. Hal Rogers (R-KY), Doug Lamborn (R-CO), and Mary Sattler Peltola (D-AK), introduced Bruce’s Law, new legislation that will authorize Community-Based Coalition Enhancement Grants and expand federal agencies’ efforts to raise awareness about fentanyl.
“As our nation faces a worsening overdose epidemic, it is crucial that we invest in prevention efforts and educate young adults about the dangers of fentanyl,” said Congressman Trone (D-MD), co-Chair of the Bipartisan Addiction and Mental Health Task Force.“This highly potent opioid is now one of the leading causes of death for 18 to 45-year-olds. Bruce’s Law has the potential to save lives, and I’m proud to stand with my colleagues across the aisle and in the Senate to support our communities struggling with this crisis and deliver results.”
“Overdose death rates are at an all-time high across the country and we are in a race against the clock to educate people about how lethal fentanyl is,” said Congressman Hal Rogers (R-KY), Dean of the U.S. House of Representatives. “Fentanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine, contributing to the skyrocketing overdose rate. As Customs and Border Patrol agents work to seize record amounts of fentanyl surging across our southern border, this bipartisan legislation will ensure that we are also educating and preventing use in our communities. Bruce’s Law has the potential to save lives and I am honored to join my colleagues in support of this important legislation.”
“Fentanyl is a highly lethal drug, which was responsible for 77% of teen overdose deaths in 2021. It is imperative that we remain proactive in educating our most vulnerable about the threat fentanyl poses to our communities and families,” said Congressman Lamborn (R-CO). “I am glad to work with my colleagues to introduce Bruce’s Law and combat our nation’s grave fentanyl epidemic.”
“Alaska saw a 71% increase in fentanyl-related deaths from 2020 to 2021,”said Congresswoman Peltola (D-AK). “This epidemic is not only an issue in my state but a serious issue nationwide. There are very few families across our nation that have not had a loved one experience opioid addiction or death. This legislation is critical to ensuring our communities have the resources they need to educate the public on the dangers of fentanyl. I’m proud to join my colleagues in advocating for its passage.”
In 2021, there were a record-high 108,000 drug overdose deaths across the nation – over 75 percent involved opioids – and fentanyl-related deaths among adolescents jumped 350 percent between 2019 and 2021. A recent survey of 13 to 24-year-olds found that 40 percent had never heard of drug deaths involving fentanyl.
Bruce’s Law seeks to establish a federal interagency effort to raise public awareness about the dangers of fentanyl and allocate funding to community organizations and coalitions to engage in similar education efforts. Bruce’s Law is named for Robert “Bruce” Snodgrass, a 22-year-old Alaskan who was one of the 72,000 Americans who died from a synthetic opioid-related overdose last year.
This bill aims to address the rise in fentanyl use and fatalities impacting young people like Bruce by:
- Authorizing an interagency public awareness campaign led by the HHS Secretary on synthetic opioids and substance use.
- Establishing a federal interagency working group under the HHS Secretary to review federal efforts to reduce synthetic opioid overdoses and establish recommendations on youth-targeted education.
- Creating new Community-Based Coalition Enhancement Grants focused on youth-based prevention efforts. This program would allow Drug-Free Communities Coalitions to access new funding specifically to focus on the dangers of drugs containing synthetic opioids.
In the Senate, Bruce’s Law was introduced by Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) in June 2022.
The legislation is endorsed by: Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA), Colorado Coalition for Families Affected by Fentanyl (VFAF), Facing Fentanyl, Mothers Against Prescription Drug Abuse (MAPDA), National HIDTA Directors Association, Partnership to End Addiction, Shatterproof, The Kennedy Forum, and Voices For Awareness Foundation.