JACKSON, MS (WDAM) - Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood joined 44 states and territories this week urging a repeal of a federal law that strips the DEA of its ability to hold drug manufacturers and distributors accountable as it relates to the oversupply of opioids.
According to a press release from the AG's office, Hood and other attorney generals sent a letter to Congress Monday asking for the repeal of the "Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2016," which weakens enforcement efforts on drug distributors by the DEA. Before the law, the agency had the authority to immediately freeze shipments of narcotics from distributors that it deemed suspicious.
Now, the DEA must prove the company's actions pose "a substantial likelihood of an immediate threat," which critics of the law believe hinders fast action in stopping the oversupply of drugs to pharmacies.
The letter sent Monday calls the new law "a step backward in our collective effort to prevent the diversion and misuse of prescription drugs."
A Washington Post investigation published in October revealed the ease with which this bill made its way into law, and now Hood wants to look more closely at what role these distributors played in creating and prolonging the opioid crisis.
"This bill is essentially paving the way for more people to be killed by opioids because it makes access to the drug that much easier, and Congress needs to own up to their role in this epidemic by repealing the law immediately," Hood said. "Mississippi is in the middle of this crisis just like the rest of the country, and if we need to take legal action against the companies distributing these drugs, then we absolutely will. I know too many families personally affected by this, and after reading that story last month, there's clearly more we can do to fight it so that more families don't experience the loss of a loved one."
The letter sent to Congress was also signed by the following states: Alabama, Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, Virgin Islands, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia.