Ohio Senatorial Candidate Flips Stance, Calls for Fentanyl to Be Classified as ‘Weapon of Mass Destruction’

Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH-13) claims that he wants to label fentanyl as a “weapon of mass destruction” although he previously made a pledge to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in 2019 to decriminalize all drug possession.

The long time Democrat has consistently opposed efforts to limit the flood of the deadly opioid into the United States and Ohio.

In 2017, Ryan voted against increasing funding for the International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement Division; in 2018 Ryan voted in opposition to a bill controlling synthetic analogs for illegal drugs including fentanyl; in 2020 he did not cast a vote on a bill extending a ban on fentanyl, and last year he voted against a committee amendment to direct $75 million for the Drug Enforcement Agency’s attempts to address the trafficking of fentanyl.

But in mid-June, Ryan abruptly changed his position with the introduction of a House Resolution calling for the designation of illicit fentanyl as a “weapon of mass destruction.”

“The fentanyl crisis is killing our kids and devastating our communities. There is not a corner of Ohio that has not been affected by this epidemic in some way. We cannot look away as this crisis worsens. It’s time we take a whole-of-government approach to fight it. That means using every resource we have at our disposal to get this off the streets and out of our neighborhoods,” Ryan said in a press release about the proposal.

This statement stands in sharp contrast to his 2019 pledge to ACLU to work to cut the prison population in half. The promise included a provision to decriminalize all drug possession, including fentanyl.

Meanwhile, Ryan made headlines earlier this month once it was found that the congressman received $27,000 towards campaign funding from drug distributors AmerisourceBergen, McKesson, and Cardinal Health, who are blamed for key roles in the opioid crisis. Ryan took the money between 2007 and August of this year.

Republican U.S. Senate nominee J.D. Vance tweeted Wednesday, “Ryan wanted to decriminalize fentanyl. Now he wants it declared a weapon of mass destruction. The only difference is that three years ago he was trying to scam a different group of voters than he is today.”

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued a report in 2021 saying that for the first time in modern history, over 100,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in the span of a year. Approximately two-thirds of those deaths were caused by fentanyl and other synthetic drugs.

According to the Ohio Department of Health, 81 percent of Ohio overdose deaths in 2020 involved fentanyl. That percentage has risen since the 76 percent recorded in 2019.

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Hannah Poling is a lead reporter at The Ohio Star and The Star News Network. Follow Hannah on Twitter @HannahPoling1. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Tim Ryan” by Tim Ryan. 



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