Causing the Majority of Overdose Deaths in the United States
FRANKFORT, KY (March 13, 2023) – Attorney General Daniel Cameron today continued to deliver on his promise to fight the opioid epidemic by sending a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland urging the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to take immediate action against the primary cause of overdose deaths in the United States: fentanyl.
"More Americans are dying of overdoses now than at any time in our nation's history, and fentanyl is the leading cause of those deaths, and this must stop," said Attorney General Cameron. "We've called on the Biden Administration to stop using DOJ to advance policies that exacerbate the opioid epidemic and to take meaningful action to protect Kentuckians and Americans from the scourge of fentanyl."
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), between May 2021 and May 2022 approximately 108,000 Americans died from overdoses, and fentanyl was the leading cause of these deaths. The Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy reports that fentanyl was involved in over 70 percent of Kentucky's overdose deaths in 2021.
In fiscal year 2022, the U.S. government seized over 14,000 pounds of fentanyl. According to some estimates, that's enough to kill nearly ten times the population of the United States.
In his letter, Attorney General Cameron urged DOJ to address the staggering number of fentanyl overdose deaths in Kentucky and across the United States by informing Americans about the dangers of accidental overdoses involving fentanyl, supporting law enforcement and prosecutors, and facilitating collaboration between the federal government and state attorneys general.
Attorney General Cameron also called on DOJ to stop supporting proposals that relax criminal penalties for certain fentanyl traffickers. Attorney General Cameron wrote "exempting fentanyl offenses from mandatory minimums would encourage the creation and spread of novel fentanyl drugs" and "would pluck fentanyl analogue traffickers out of this structure and give them lighter sentences."
Kentucky's Attorney General also warned DOJ not to permit supervised injection sites, as they likely violate federal law and "would encourage the use of illegal drugs by giving the federal government's stamp of approval to such use."
Last month, Attorney General Cameron launched "Operation Fight Fentanyl" to combat the opioid epidemic in the Commonwealth. As part of this initiative, Attorney General Cameron has met with law enforcement, legislator, prosecutor, and community partners in Kenton and Pendleton Counties regarding the impact of illicit fentanyl and how to combat it.
The letter is the latest action taken by Attorney General Cameron as part of Operation Fight Fentanyl.
To read a copy of the letter, click here.