WASHINGTON (CBS19 NEWS) -- A new bill before the U.S. House aims to crack down on narcotics traffickers and strengthen the national fight against Fentanyl and counterfeit drugs.
Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger introduced the Criminalizing Abused Substance Templates Act, or CAST, that she says would take aim at drug traffickers who use illicit pill presses to make counterfeit pills.
According to a release, drug traffickers have turned to counterfeit drug manufacturing as another way to profit from opioid abuse and addiction while the opioid epidemic continues to impact communities across the United States.
Such molds can be easily purchased online and can be used to produce drugs that are designed to look like legitimate products.
While this practice is currently prohibited by law, the penalty for being caught doing it is not.
The release says this bill would address the enforcement issue by making changes to the Controlled Substances Act to define the criminal penalty for using a pill press to make counterfeit drugs.
Spanberger also says it would stiffen penalties for people who use pill presses to distribute any counterfeit drugs, including opioids.
"In Central Virginia and across the country, families, businesses and entire communities continue to face immense challenges due to the opioid epidemic. As this public health crisis grows, we also face the threat of extremely dangerous substances, such as Fentanyl, being pressed into illicit pills and sold on our streets," she said. "This bill, supported by Democrats and Republicans in both Houses of Congress, would help crackdown on the production of counterfeit drugs via illicit pill press molds. By deterring drug traffickers and those who produce illicit drugs, we are taking another step in a multi-faceted approach in the fight against Fentanyl."
The bill would make possession of a pill press mold with the intent to counterfeit schedule I or II substances a crime under the Controlled Substances Act.
It would also increase the offense level by two levels for a person convicted of making or selling controlled substances while also being in possession of a pill press mold.
Congressman David Kustoff (R-Tennessee) co-sponsored the bill with Spanberger.
In the Senate, a companion bill was introduced by Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Maddie Hassan (D-New Hampshire).