Sens. Marshall and Shaheen Bill Cracks Down on Drug Dealers Targeting Americans through Social Media

(Washington, D.C., December 19, 2022) – U.S. Senators Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-KS) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science today announced bipartisan legislation to hold social media companies accountable for reporting to law enforcement all illicit fentanyl activity occurring on their platforms. Their legislation, the Cooper Davis Act, is named after a Kansas teen who tragically lost his life to fentanyl poisoning last summer. The bill strengthens previous legislation Senator Marshall announced in September and includes feedback from federal agency officials, families of victims, Snap Inc., law enforcement, and more. Senators Marshall and Shaheen issued the below statements following introduction of the Cooper Davis Act:

“Fentanyl is the deadliest drug our nation has ever seen, and nearly every day in Kansas somebody dies from a poisoning,” said Senator Marshall. “Just one pill can kill, and in Cooper’s case it only took half a pill to take his life. I am proud to team up with Senator Shaheen and Libby Davis on the Cooper Davis Act that will empower law enforcement officials to prosecute those who prey on America’s youth. We will not rest in our fight to stop this terrible scourge that is killing Americans at record rates. Without a doubt, Cooper and all those have been poisoned deserve our best fight.”

“Fentanyl is fueling the addiction crisis, and too many young people across New Hampshire and the nation are falling victim by acquiring drugs through social media. Social media companies have a responsibility to report illicit drug activity on their platforms. That’s why I’m introducing this bipartisan bill with Senator Marshall to increase reporting requirements for social media companies, providing essential data to law enforcement to stem the flow of illicit drugs,” said Senator Shaheen. “As the substance use disorder crisis continues to evolve, so must our response. This epidemic has wrought enough havoc and heartbreak on our communities – we must protect future generations from succumbing to addiction.”

Cooper’s mom Libby Davis – who recently wrote this Washington Times op-ed – issued this statement following introduction:

“I want to thank Senators Marshall and Shaheen for coming together and for all their hard work to strengthen the Cooper Davis Act. We lost our 16 year-old son Cooper just over a year ago after he took half of a pill he thought was a prescription Percocet. His toxicology report revealed there was no Percocet at all, only fentanyl. He had been deceived to death,” said Libby Davis. “That day, Cooper made a decision that ended his life, and like so many other teens across our country, he did not get the chance to learn from his mistake. Social media apps should not be ok with their platforms being a vehicle for the Mexican cartels’ drug distribution that results in the loss of countless American lives. A higher level of accountability for social media companies as it relates to illicit drug activity is needed more than ever.”

Jennifer Stout, Snap Vice President for Global Public Policy said,

“Snap is committed to doing everything we can to combat the national fentanyl epidemic. We appreciate Senator Marshall and Senator Shaheen’s work on this critical topic, and look forward to continuing to work with them on this important legislation.”

Background on Cooper Davis and the Cooper Davis Act:

Cooper Davis – a young, thriving Kansas teen – tragically lost his life after taking half a counterfeit pill that contained a lethal dose of fentanyl. He was just 16 years old. Cooper and his three friends shared two blue pills they thought were Percocet purchased by a friend who connected with a drug dealer in Missouri through Snapchat. Unfortunately, the counterfeit pills were laced with fentanyl and Cooper died from just half a pill. Cooper’s death is similar to others throughout the country.

In recent years, organized drug cartels have dominated fentanyl trafficking in the country, setting up sophisticated distribution networks online via social media. In investigating fentanyl-related poisoning and deaths in teens and young adults, law enforcement agencies have found an alarming rate of these deadly pills acquired through social media platforms. Within a five-month period, the DEA investigated 390 drug-poisoning investigations and found that 129 had direct ties to social media. Unfortunately, federal agencies do not have the necessary data and resources to intervene and prevent the increasing crisis.

The Cooper Davis Act would require social media companies and other communication service providers to take on a more active role in working with federal agencies to combat the illegal sale and distribution of counterfeit and controlled substances occurring on their platforms. Specifically, the bill would establish a comprehensive and standardized reporting regime that would enable the DEA to better identify and dismantle international criminal networks and save American lives. The legislation would also require the U.S. Department of Justice to better coordinate with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, state and local law enforcement, INTERPOL, and other foreign law enforcement agencies. Social media companies and other communication service providers have similar reporting requirements for child sexual exploitation under then-Senator Joe Biden’s bipartisan PROTECT our Children Act of 2008.