Home Local News OPIOID EPIDEMIC: Hudson supports bill rescheduling fentanyl; Snapchat blamed for connecting children...

OPIOID EPIDEMIC: Hudson supports bill rescheduling fentanyl; Snapchat blamed for connecting children to drug dealers

Rep. Richard Hudson listens during a roundtable discussion on Snapchat's perceived role in the fentanyl epidemic. Photo from Hudson's office

WASHINGTON — One of Richmond County’s congressional delegates is supporting legislation to help curb the increase in fentanyl-related deaths.

Rep. Richard Hudson on Wednesday participated in a roundtable discussion during a meeting of the House Energy and Commerce Committee focusing on big tech’s perceived involvement in the proliferation of the deadly drug.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine.

Hudson, according to his office, is a co-sponsor of the HALT Fentanyl Act, which would move the drug and related substances into Schedule I of the federal Controlled Substances Act, along with heroin, LSD, ecstasy and marijuana.

Congressional records show the bill was introduced Jan. 9 by Rep. Morgan Griffith of Virginia, with Ohio Rep. Bob Latta as an original co-sponsor. Both are Republicans.

“Passing the HALT Fentanyl Act to permanently schedule fentanyl-related substances and keep them out of our communities is one of the Committee’s top priorities,” Hudson said in a press release. “I commend Reps. Griffith and Latta for their leadership on this effort.”

(Note: Congressional records on Wednesday evening did not yet list Hudson as a co-sponsor.)

Hudson’s office cites research that found 30% of fentanyl deaths were connected to the social media app Snapchat.

Drug cartels use social media “to connect with young Americans and enable interstate commerce of illegal drug products of counterfeit pills containing lethal amounts of fentanyl,” according to Hudson’s office.

Hudson condemned lax border policies and social media companies for what he believes are their respective roles in the increase of overdoses.

“The fentanyl crisis has only gotten worse due to the open border policies of the Biden administration,” Hudson said. “Yet we know big tech is playing an increasing role in fueling this tragic epidemic.

“Too many young people are dying from fentanyl poisoning and too many are accessing it through social media platforms,” he continued. “We have a responsibility to address this issue and save lives.”

Rep. David Joyce of Ohio said during a roundtable, streamed two weeks ago, that the DEA seized more than 379 million doses of fentanyl in 2022 — “ … enough to kill each and every American.”


Joyce added that labeling fentanyl as a Schedule I narcotic will “enable law enforcement with the tools that they need to stop the drug trafficking that’s killing American citizens.”

Richmond County, a portion of which is included in Hudson’s district, led the state with an overdose emergency room visit rate of 406 per 100,000 in 2021 and records show there were 30 local overdose deaths.

In the first half of 2022, the amount of naloxone administered to overdose patients more than quintupled from January to May.

Click here to read about last year’s statistics.

(Note: This writer is a media representative for the Richmond County Drug Endangered Family Task Force. There is currently no available naloxone data past May.)

NC Policy Watch recently reported that there were more than 3,000 fentanyl-related overdose deaths across the state in 2021, and cited a report from Families Against Fentanyl that found nationwide overdose deaths among children 14 and under tripled from 2019-2021.

During Wednesday’s roundtable, Laura Marquez-Garrett, of the Social Media Victims Law Center, said that her group filed a criminal complaint — along with attorney Carrie Goldberg — in October on behalf of nine families, which has since grown to 47 families, whose children have been harmed or died from fentanyl poisoning.
Marquez-Garrett said 43 of 47 children — as young as 13 — died and almost half were under the age of 18.

“In every one of these instances where the children were connected to a drug dealer through a social media app, one app was used — Snapchat,” she said. “… the death of American children by fentanyl poisoning is not a social media issue, it’s a Snapchat issue.

“We must ask ourselves, and we must ask Snapchat, how and why these drug dealers have virtually unfettered access to our children in the first place,” Marquez-Garrett continued.

She added that the company could make changes to make children safe, “but instead has offered empty promises and children are continuing to die as a result.”

CNBC reports, citing a Snapchat spokesperson, that the company has taken steps to block drug-related search terms, shut down dealer accounts and increase parental controls.

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Managing Editor William R. Toler is an award-winning writer and photographer with experience in print, television and online media.