Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed the bipartisan Cooper Davis Act (S.1080), and the legislation now heads to the Senate floor.

Championed by U.S. Senators Todd Young (R-Ind.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), the bill would require certain technology companies to take a more proactive role against drug dealers preying on America’s youth on social media.

“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. 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 the vote on this bill, and it is now time to bring this legislation to the Senate floor,” said Senator Young.  

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.

“As we continue working to combat the fentanyl epidemic, we must prevent these deadly drugs from being easily sold through social media. 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,” said Senator Klobuchar.  

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 cases to 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.