Marshall introduces legislation named after Kansas teen to fight fentanyl crisis

Senator Roger Marshall and the Davis family introduce the Cooper Davis Act on Sept. 16, 2022.
Senator Roger Marshall and the Davis family introduce the Cooper Davis Act on Sept. 16, 2022.(Office of Sen. Roger Marshall)
Published: Sep. 18, 2022 at 4:16 PM CDT
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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (WIBW) - Senator Roger Marshall has introduced legislation named after an Overland Park teenager to hold social media companies accountable and fight the fentanyl crisis.

U.S. Senator Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) says on Friday, Sept. 16, he announced his new legislation, the Cooper Davis Act, named after a Johnson County teenager who tragically lost his life to a fentanyl overdose after he took half a pill of what he believed to be Percocet.

Sen. Marshall noted that it is believed that Davis bought the lethal pill from a drug dealer in Missouri through the social media platform Snapchat. After he passed, Davis’ family launched the non-profit Keepin’ Clean for Coop to keep his memory alive, save lives, raise awareness and educate students and families about the dangers of fentanyl.

Marshall said he was joined by the Davis family, as well as Johnson Co. Sheriff Calvin Hayden during the announcement.

“Fentanyl is the deadliest drug our nation has ever seen, and most every day in Kansas somebody dies from fentanyl poisoning,” said Senator Marshall. “Just one pill can kill, and in Cooper’s case, it only took half a pill. The Cooper Davis Act requires social media companies to report all illicit drug activity occurring on their platforms to law enforcement. Making this critical data accessible will empower state and local law enforcement to combat fake fentanyl-laced pills, and prosecute those who prey on America’s youth. I am grateful to partner with Libby Davis to introduce this legislation named after her son, and I thank her for championing this serious issue. We will not rest in our fight to stop this terrible scourge wreaking havoc in Kansas — Cooper deserves our best fight.”

Libby Davis, Cooper’s mother, stressed the severity of the epidemic in the U.S.

“I want to thank Senator Marshall and his team for all their hard work on this bill,” she said. “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.”

“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,” she continued. “Social media apps should no be ok with their platforms being a vehicle for the Mexican cartels’ drug distribution that results in the loss of countless American lives

Davis also called on social media companies to act.

“A higher level of accountability for social media companies as it related to illicit drug activity is needed more than ever,” she concluded.

In recent years, Marshall indicated that organized drug cartels have dominated fentanyl trafficking in the U.S. and have set up large, sophisticated distribution networks online via social media. Through investigations of fenatnyl-related deaths, agencies have found an alarming rate of pills acquired through platforms like Snapchat and TikTok.

Unfortunately, Marshall said federal agencies do not have the data to intervene and prevent these illegal transactions.

Marshall said that the new legislation would require social media companies and other communication providers to take a more active role in working with federal agencies to combat the illegal sale and distribution of drugs on their platforms. He said the critical data would also empower state and local law enforcement to fight fake fentanyl-laced pill overdoses and prosecute those who prey on young Americans.

Earlier in the week, the Senator said he questioned Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky about what her agency has done to stop the flow of the illicit drug into communities. In response to one of his questions, she confirmed she has had conversations with the Department of Health and Human Services about declaring the fentanyl crisis a public health emergency - but did not say whether or not she recommended it.

Also during the week, Marshall indicated that he joined a group of colleagues to send a letter to hold the CEOs of Instagram, TikTok, Snap Inc., and YouTube accountable and demand answers on what they have done to curb the drug epidemic and keep teens safe on their platforms.

To read the legislation, click HERE.