Senator Marshall’s Cooper Davis Act Heads to the Senate Floor Following Major Victory Out of Committee
Washington, D.C. – Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed the bipartisan Cooper Davis Act (S.1080) and now heads to the Senate floor. The legislation – championed by U.S. Senators Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-KS), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin (D-IL), Todd Young (R-IN), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) – would require Big Tech companies to take a more proactive role against drug dealers preying on America’s youth on social media. The bill passed 16 to 5.
The bill is in honor of Cooper Davis, a 16-year-old Kansas teen who tragically lost his life to a counterfeit prescription drug laced with fentanyl in August 2021. It was later discovered that a drug dealer solicited Mr. Davis through a popular social media platform, Snapchat.
“Our family is very grateful for Senator Marshall and his colleague’s leadership on this legislation. It’s encouraging to see this bill, honoring Cooper’s life, heading to the Senate floor. We trust that our legislators will recognize how important it is to pass this bill to keep our kids safe and expedite its passage. I look forward to seeing this bipartisan legislation reach the finish line so countless innocent lives can be spared,” Cooper Davis’s mother, Libby Davis said.
“Fentanyl continues to be the deadliest drug our nation has ever seen, a Kansan dies everyday from this poison. The Cooper Davis Act moving to the Senate Floor is a huge victory in our fight back against this epidemic. Our bipartisan legislation will save lives and give law enforcement the ability to fight back against these social media companies conducting drug sales on their platforms,”Senator Marshall said.
“Fentanyl is devastating communities in Indiana and across our nation, and we need to do more to address the flow of these drugs, including distribution via social media, that are poisoning young Americans,” Senator Young said. “Our bipartisan Cooper Davis Act will give law enforcement officials more tools to combat the illegal sale and distribution of drugs. I am encouraged by today’s vote on this bill, and it is now time to bring this legislation to the Senate floor.”
“Fentanyl is fueling the substance use disorder crisis impacting New Hampshire and our nation. Tragically, we’ve seen the role that social media plays in that by making it easier for young people to get their hands on these dangerous drugs. We have to put a stop to it now- it’s killing our kids,”Senator Shaheen said. “Social media companies have a moral responsibility to report illicit drug activity happening on their platforms, and our bipartisan legislation would help ensure they work with law enforcement to do exactly that. I’m thankful to Senator Marshall for leading this effort, and to my fellow Senators for prioritizing the Cooper Davis Act and passing it out of committee. Our families and communities have dealt with enough tragedy and heartbreak – we must protect future generations from succumbing to substance misuse.”
“As we continue working to combat the fentanyl epidemic, we must prevent these deadly drugs from being easily sold through social media,” Senator Klobuchar said. “By requiring social media companies to report illicit fentanyl trafficking on their platforms, our bipartisan legislation will help law enforcement crack down on these illegal sales and protect kids.”
“We’ve been on a mission in the Senate Judiciary Committee: to protect children’s online safety. Today, we advanced our sixth bipartisan bill out of this Committee in support of that mission. I thank Senators Marshall and Shaheen for their diligent work on this piece of legislation as the fentanyl crisis continues to ravage communities across the country. We need to consider all options to help save lives, including by addressing illicit drug trafficking online. I look forward to continued collaboration as it advances to the full Senate,” U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee said.
Background on Cooper Davis and the Cooper Davis Act:
The legislation honors 16-year-old Cooper Davis from Johnson County, Kansas. In August 2021, Cooper and three of his friends were connected to a drug dealer on Snapchat and acquired what they believed was Percocet, an FDA-approved prescription drug used to treat moderate to severe pain. The pills were in fact counterfeit and laced with illicit fentanyl, a deadly synthetic narcotic. The four teenagers shared two fake Percocet pills. Cooper died from only taking half of a tablet, while his three friends survived.
Fentanyl is currently the most dangerous drug threat facing Americans, and fatal poisonings are the fastest growing among adolescents, teenagers, and young adults. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently published an analysis finding a 182 percent increase in illicit fentanyl overdose deaths among 10 to 19-year olds between 2019 to 2021. Counterfeit prescription pills were present in nearly 25 percent of deaths.
International drug cartels have come to dominate illicit fentanyl trafficking in the country, setting up vast, sophisticated distribution networks including online via social media. While investigating fentanyl-related deaths and poisonings, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) have found an alarming rate of these deadly pills acquired through platforms like TikTok and Snapchat. In fact, within a five-month initiative involving hundreds of cases, the DEA linked 36 percent of casesto Snapchat, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and TikTok. In addition, the DEA released an updated public safety alert finding that six out of ten fentanyl-laced counterfeit prescription pills contained a potentially lethal dose. This was an increase from the agency’s lab analysis from 2021, where the rate was four out of ten.
The Cooper Davis Act would require social media companies and other communication service providers to take on a more proactive role in working with federal agencies to combat the illegal sale and distribution of drugs on their platforms by creating a standardized and comprehensive framework.