Seven hundred twenty-two. This is the number of bills that state legislatures are currently considering on five topics related to controlled substances and prescriptions drugs – and it is only April. This figure includes state bills relative to naloxone and Good Samaritan protections, prescription monitoring programs, powdered and crystalline alcohol, changes to controlled substance scheduling, and marijuana: including medicinal marijuana use, marijuana decriminalization, and legalized non-medical marijuana use. These five topics represent some of the most high-priority drug-related issues legislators and policy makers are tackling but it is by no means exhaustive. States are also considering changes to synthetic substance laws, changes to laws that govern prescribing and other aspects of the practice of medicine, prescription drug abuse and changes in sentencing guidelines for controlled substance-related crime to name a few.
The depth of legislative activity on the state level is also trending upward on the federal level. During the current 114th session, the House and Senate are already considering upwards of 20 controlled substance-related bills including the “Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol Act,” which would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level and reserve to states the power to regulate marijuana in the same way alcohol is regulated from state to state; the “Compassionate Access Research Expansion and Respect States (CARES) Act,” which amends the Controlled Substances Act by rescheduling marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule II substance on the federal level; the “Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2015,” which authorizes the Attorney General of the United States to award grants to address the national epidemics of heroin use and prescription opioid abuse; and the “National All Schedules Prescription Electronic Reporting (NASPER) Act of 2015,” which reauthorizes the law that provides grants to state prescription monitoring programs to expand and improve those programs.