18 states’ attorneys general have formally asked President Biden to classify fentanyl as a weapon of mass destruction out of fear it could be used to create mass chemical weapons. The drug is being seized in record amounts and potentially could kill every man, woman and child in the country more than 11 times over, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data.
Fentanyl is so lethal, it could potentially become weaponized by adversaries and has been before. The substance has been used as a chemical weapon by Russia by converting it into a deadly gaseous form.
Today the U.S. announced it is largely scaling back exports of the drug to Russia as the U.S. enforces new sanctions on several chemicals including fentanyl and its derivatives alfentanil, sufentanil, remifentanil and carfentanil. It will also apply the sanctions to “chemical precursors to central nervous system acting chemicals” as well as some biologics, equipment, quantum computing and advanced manufacturing items. All of the items were sanctioned in fears fentanyl could be used by Russia to build chemical weapons to use in the war on Ukraine, according to reports.
In the joint letter to the president from the attorneys generals, they wrote “the proposed action would require the Department of Homeland Security and the Drug Enforcement Administration to coordinate response with other agencies, including the Department of Defense – as opposed to the federal government simply treating the substance as a narcotics control problem.”
State attorneys generals aren’t the only ones trying to bring more awareness to the dangers fentanyl poses as a weapon. A release from the Montana Department of Justice said there were more than 75,000 fatal overdoses related to synthetic opioids, particularly fentanyl, in the United States in a 12-month span ending in February 2022. The DOJ’s release added the leading cause of deaths in adults aged 18 to 24 is drug overdoses.
“Treating this solely as a narcotics control problem has failed to curb the proliferation of increasing quantities of chemicals that can cause a mass casualty event. Your own DEA Administrator has called fentanyl ‘the deadliest threat [the DEA] ha[s] ever seen.’ We should treat it as such — thus bold action must be taken,” Attorney General Knudsen and the others wrote to Biden. “We must not sit idly by until a terrorist chooses to inflict harm using this substance on a large group of Americans — our countrymen are already dying from this poison. We cannot wait for tragedy to strike when proactive steps can be taken now to preserve American lives. We urge you take immediate and decisive action and declare fentanyl a weapon of mass destruction.”