RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — After a quarterly report published by the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), found drug overdoses remain the leading cause of unnatural death in Virginia, with fentanyl at the forefront, Attorney General Jason Miyares has joined a bipartisan effort urging President Biden to classify the deadly drug as a “Weapon of Mass Destruction.”
The quarterly report found that in 2021, fentanyl overdoses killed 2038 people in Virginia alone. In the same year, heroin was the runner-up with the most deaths resulting from an overdose, killing 408 people, less than one-fourth of those who died from fentanyl.
In a 12-month period ending in February 2022, more than 75,000 Americans died from synthetic opioids, mainly fentanyl, and it has been classified as the number one killer of adults aged 18-45.
In a letter sent Thursday, Sept. 15, 18 state attorneys general demanded Biden take action in response to the record increase in overdose deaths related to fentanyl nationwide.
“The opioid epidemic in this country has evolved over time from prescription opioids to heroin to synthetic opioids, namely fentanyl,” the letter wrote. “Currently, fentanyl is exacerbating the death toll increasing exponentially every year for the last several years. The purpose of this letter is to propose an unorthodox solution that may help abate or at least slow the crisis’s trajectory while also protecting Americans from a mass casualty event from fentanyl.”
According to The Department of Homeland Security, a Weapon of Mass Destruction is defined as, “a nuclear, radiological, chemical, biological, or other device that is intended to harm a large number of people.”
The letter went on to say that due to the “low cost of production, inherent lethality and vast availability of the substance, fentanyl would be an ideal choice for bad actors to use as a chemical weapon,” and that due to the lethality of the drug, and the amounts being seized, the numbers are “inconsistent” with what is expected with drug trafficking activity, and could instead point towards a “purposeful conspiracy to murder Americans or an effort to stockpile a dangerous chemical weapon.”
The group explained they believe that stopping the problem in a new and different way may “disrupt what the foreign companies and drug cartels involved are doing or at least make it more expensive or difficult.”
Attorney General Miyares joins Florida, Connecticut, Arkansas, Guam, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia in signing the letter.
The full letter can be read below.