Murkowski Reintroduces Bruce’s Law in Effort to Combat Fentanyl Crisis
Washington, DC—U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) today reintroduced Bruce’s Law to bolster federal prevention and education efforts surrounding fentanyl, a deadly synthetic opioid that is increasingly being incorporated into illicit street drugs. The measure is named after an Alaskan, Robert “Bruce” Snodgrass, who tragically passed away in 2021 at the age of 22 from fentanyl poisoning.
Senators Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) are original co-sponsors of the legislation.
Robert “Bruce” Snodgrass, namesake of Bruce’s Law.
June 4, 1999 – October 26, 2021
“The fentanyl crisis continues to intensify, with alarming increases in the number of poisonings and deaths in Alaska and across the country—particularly among unsuspecting young people. Those deaths cause heartbreak and devastation for families and communities, but many could be prevented through better education and awareness,” Senator Murkowski said. “Many Alaskans have helped shape this bill, and I especially thank Bruce’s mom, Sandy, for her relentless advocacy. I’m looking forward to getting this bipartisan effort over the finish line.”
“The rise of dangerous counterfeit drugs laced with fentanyl has left a trail of death in communities across the United States. Tens of thousands of Americans are dying from synthetic-opioid overdoses every year, and that number continues to rise. We must keep doing all we can to end this wave of needless deaths, which is why I’m particularly pleased to join Senator Murkowski on this important legislation to increase awareness of this problem,” Senator Feinstein said.
“The tidal wave of fentanyl, made in China and transported through our porous southern border, is poisoning our kids,” said Senator Sullivan. “The tragic loss of Bruce Snodgrass demonstrates that no community is beyond the reach of this deadly, insidious crisis. Alaska has the sad distinction of the highest rate of overdose deaths per capita of any place in the country. Our state and our country are facing a five-alarm crisis that is devastating younger generations. I’m glad to join Senator Murkowski and my colleagues in putting forward legislation to raise awareness among young people, parents, and first responders about the risks of fentanyl-laced illegal drugs and to coordinate the efforts of all stakeholders to help the thousands of Americans who do not need our judgment, but our help. Finally, I want to commend Sandy Snodgrass for her tireless campaign in Bruce’s honor to protect young people and to prevent other families from ever having to suffer the unimaginable loss of a child to drug overdose or fentanyl poisoning.”
“We must continue to tackle the fentanyl crisis aggressively from every angle, and that includes through preventative education,” Senator Hassan said. “The overdose death of Bruce and many others across the country should be a call to action to educate young people about the dangers of drugs laced with fentanyl. I hope that Senator Murkowski and I can honor the legacy of Bruce, as well as the many Granite Staters who have succumbed to a fentanyl overdose by passing this commonsense, bipartisan bill into law.”
“I have heard from families across Wisconsin who have lost loved ones to fentanyl overdoses and poisonings, and we must do more to save Wisconsinites’ lives. We need to use every tool we have to combat this epidemic – stop the drug from coming into our country and communities, increase prevention and treatment efforts, and make overdose reversal drugs widely available. I am glad to be joining my Democratic and Republican colleagues in introducing this needed measure to provide Wisconsin communities across the state resources to proactively prevent and educate our young people on the devastating impacts of fentanyl and curb the use of it,” Senator Baldwin said.
“On October 26, 2021, my 22-year-old son, Bruce, died by fentanyl poisoning in Anchorage, Alaska. Since that day, I have learned that the amount of fentanyl that it takes to kill you can sit on the tip of a pencil. Since that day, I have learned that drug overdose, largely due to fentanyl poisoning, is the leading cause of death for Americans aged 18-45. Since that day, I have learned that all illicit drugs in this country need to be suspected of being poisoned by fentanyl. Since that day, I have learned that Bruce was one of nearly 108,000 Americans that died of a drug overdose in 2021, with the majority of deaths due to fentanyl poisoning. Since that day, I have learned that the CDC reports to date in 2022, an American dies every 5 minutes of a drug overdose. Since that day, my sole purpose has been, and will continue to be, to raise awareness and provide education to stem the death toll that Fentanyl poisoning is wreaking in our country. Today, I ask all members of Congress to stand with Senators Murkowski, Feinstein, Sullivan, Hassan, and Baldwin in support of Bruce’s Law, and to join us in raising awareness and providing education to as many Americans as we can reach, as quickly as we can reach them. Time is not on our side!” said Sandy Snodgrass, Bruce’s Mom.
In 2021, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued its first Public Safety Alert in six years, warning Americans about fake prescription pills and drugs containing meth and fentanyl, which is 50 times more powerful than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. DEA’s alert came amid a significant rise in the overdoses and deaths being caused by counterfeit drugs containing fentanyl that are mass-produced by criminal networks.
DEA has documented a dramatic increase in its seizures of pills containing illicit fentanyl. The agency seized over 9.5 million counterfeit pills across every state during 2021—more than were seized in 2019 and 2020 combined. According to DEA, “a deadly dose of fentanyl is small enough to fit on the tip of a pencil.”
Fentanyl is a crisis in Alaska, and the deaths it causes are affecting communities throughout the state. According to preliminary data, Alaska had a larger percentage increase in overdose deaths than any other state from 2020 to 2021, with fatalities rising from 146 in 2020 to 253 in 2021. Fentanyl poisoning is the biggest driver of those increases.
In January, the Alaska Department of Public Safety released its annual drug report, which highlighted the seizure of more than 26 kilograms of illicit fentanyl, which is enough for “approximately 13.425 million potentially fatal doses.” Law enforcement authorities have also made significant seizures in Kodiak, Fairbanks, Juneau, and other Alaska communities in recent months.
This legislation is officially endorsed by the Partnership to End Addiction, Voices for Awareness, Facing Fentanyl, Shatterproof, Mothers Against Prescription Drug Abuse (MAPDA), CADCA, and High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA).
Click here to watch Senator Murkowski speak about Bruce’s Law on the Senate floor last year.