Ashley Moody leads bipartisan Attorneys General coalition to call for fentanyl weapon of mass destruction declaration

by | Sep 15, 2022

  • Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody led a bipartisan collection of Attorneys General this week in requesting that President Joe Biden declare fentanyl a weapon of mass destruction 
  • Overdose deaths due to fentanyl have seen a spike in 2022 and an overall increase over the past five years 
  • Moody in July individually requested the weapon of mass destruction decree following a series of nine deaths across four days in Gadsden County 
  • Should the drug be declared a weapon of mass destruction, it would require federal agencies to work collaboratively to mitigate its spread across the country 

A bipartisan coalition of 18 state Attorneys General (AG) led by Florida AG Ashley Moody collectively wrote to President Joe Biden this week to request a declaration of fentanyl as a weapon of mass destruction.

In the letter, the AGs declare that fentanyl is compounding the national mortality toll, which has climbed dramatically in recent years. The illicit substances were found to have been mostly manufactured in Mexico and trafficked across the border to hub cities like Atlanta before making way to smaller cities and towns across the country.

Fentanyl is especially dangerous because users may be unaware that they are taking the hazardous drug since it is routinely blended with other drugs. Synthetic opioid is 50-100 times more potent than morphine.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Mark Glass in July claimed that 30 percent of drugs going through state lab testing protocols return counterfeit.

“The opioid epidemic in this country has evolved over time from prescription opioids to heroin to synthetic opioids, namely fentanyl,” the letter reads. “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. We ask that you consider classifying illegal fentanyl as a weapon of mass destruction or, if you conclude you do not have authority to do so, urge Congress to pass legislation to do so.”

Moody in July called for counterfeit fentanyl to be declared a weapon of mass destruction herself, encouraging President Biden to utilize executive authority or ask Congress to designate fentanyl as a weapon of mass destruction.

Should the substance be deemed as such, it would require federal departments like the Department of Homeland Security, Justice Department, and Pentagon to work in tandem to combat the opioid crisis, presumptuously expediting the response.

The U.S. government defines a weapon of mass destruction as a “nuclear, radiological, chemical, biological, or other device designed to damage a significant number of people.” According to Moody’s office, fentanyl “is very likely a feasible choice for a chemical weapon assault.”

“Relying on non-state criminal actors and terrorists to think or act as expected is a losing proposition. The reality is that the deadliness of fentanyl combined with its sheer availability in Mexico to criminal cartels and non-state actors makes it an increasingly likely weapon for use,” Moody said.

AGs from New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Nevada, South Carolina, Montana, Connecticut, Florida, Nebraska, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, New Mexico, and Guam all partook in the communication to the President.



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