WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown’s bipartisan bill to keep illegal fentanyl out of Ohio was signed into law by President Trump today after Brown joined his colleague Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) to usher the bill to unanimous passage in the Senate at the end of last year. Brown joined President Trump at the White House this evening as Trump signed Brown’s bill, the INTERDICT Act, into law.

“This law is about giving law enforcement the tools they need to keep fentanyl out of our country and off Ohio streets,” said Brown. “We must build on this bipartisan momentum and come together to start combatting the addiction epidemic like the public health emergency that it is.”

At the time of the bill’s passage, the Youngstown Vindicator called the passage of INTERDICT “among the best news of year” in the fight against the opioid epidemic. 

“Among the best news of the year came late Thursday, when U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, through persistence and new support from the Fraternal Order of Police, pushed through his INTERDICT Act hours before senators beat feet for their long holiday recess,” wrote the Vindicators. Read the full editorial here.

The signing of Brown’s INTERDICT Act into law comes just as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new data late last month showing Ohio had the second highest death rate by drug overdose in the U.S in 2016. The law will provide U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) with additional hi-tech screening equipment and lab resources to detect fentanyl before it enters the U.S.

Several state and national law enforcement organizations, including the Ohio Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) and the Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association, have endorsed Brown’s bill. Brown’s bill is also supported by U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Brown is supporting Portman’s STOP Act, which is also endorsed by law enforcement. The two bills work together to help block the deadly synthetic opioid from reaching Ohio communities.

“Exposure to synthetic opioids like fentanyl, even in small amounts, is dangerous to Ohio law enforcement officers and the citizens they serve. As we work to keep these deadly synthetic opioids out of Ohio communities, Sen. Brown’s bill provides important tools to prevent fentanyl from crossing our borders in the first place. Ohio FOP was glad to support the INTERDICT Act and we are pleased that the legislation is now law,” said Ohio Fraternal Order of the Police (FOP) President Jay McDonald.

“Every day, Ohio sheriffs are on the front lines fighting the opioid epidemic in their communities. Their job is made even more difficult by the increase in exposure to the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl. Sen. Brown’s bill will enhance law enforcement officers’ ability to keep deadly synthetic opioids like fentanyl out of Ohio communities, and we are proud to have worked with Sen. Brown to pass the INTERDICT Act into law,” said Preble County Sherriff Michael Simpson, President of the Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association.

Brown’s law will authorize $15 million for new screening devices, laboratory equipment, facilities, and personnel for 24x7 lab support. The money will be used to:

  • Provide more portable chemical screening devices at ports of entry and mail and express consignment facilities and additional fixed chemical screening devices available in CBP laboratories.
  • Provide CBP with sufficient resources, personnel, and facilities — including scientists available during all operational hours — to interpret screening test results from the field. 

Providing CBP with more screening devices and lab support will not only stop more Fentanyl from coming into the U.S., it will also protect more agents in the field from exposure to dangerous substances.