GOP Lawmaker Seeks to Have Fentanyl Designated as Weapon of Mass Destruction

By Hannah Ng
Hannah Ng
Hannah Ng
Reporter
Hannah Ng is a reporter covering U.S. and China news. She holds a master's degree in international and development economics from the University of Applied Science Berlin.
June 19, 2022 Updated: June 19, 2022

Congresswoman Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) on June 13 introduced a bill that seeks to label the synthetic opioid fentanyl as a weapon of mass destruction (WMD).

The “Fentanyl is a WMD Act” would, if enacted, instruct the assistant secretary for the Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office within the Department of Homeland Security to treat the deadly drug as a WMD.

The synthetic opioid, which is 100 more potent than morphine, would then be put under the oversight of several agencies, including the Department of Justice, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), and the Department of Defense.

Those agencies would join together in the concerted effort to issue the necessary administrative directive to eliminate the threat from this deadly substance, according to a press release from Boebert’s office.

“Fentanyl is America’s silent killer and is now the leading cause of death for Americans aged 18 to 45,” Boebert said in the release.

“The saddest thing about the fentanyl crisis is that it is preventable,” she added.

“Just last year, Border Patrol encountered enough fentanyl at the border to kill every American seven times over.”

Boebert said that fentanyl has already been used as a weapon of mass destruction, citing the Russian military’s use of an aerosol containing fentanyl derivatives against terrorist hostage-takers at a Moscow theater back in 2002.

The congresswoman made clear that her bill would not apply to legal, medical uses of fentanyl, such as botulinum toxin used for Botox treatment.

The legislation is co-sponsored by nine Republican lawmakers.

Preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that fentanyl was involved in 77 percent of overdose deaths in the United States in 2021, accounting for about 71,000 deaths.

A report from the District of Colorado U.S. Attorney’s Office said state law enforcement has seized over 2 million dosage units of synthetic opioids over the first five months of 2022, an increase of 20 percent compared to the entire year of 2021.

Meanwhile, U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported the seizure of more than 11,000 pounds of fentanyl at the border in the fiscal year 2021. Data from the Drug Enforcement Agency indicates that most fentanyl is smuggled into the United States from China and Mexico.

Hannah Ng
Reporter
Hannah Ng is a reporter covering U.S. and China news. She holds a master's degree in international and development economics from the University of Applied Science Berlin.