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Adrienne Lawrence

Legal analyst, law professor & award-winning author

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Biden’s fentanyl strategy overly focused on China

Nov 22, 2023

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During their Nov. 15 meeting in San Francisco, President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping reached an agreement to curb fentanyl production. Fentanyl is extensively manufactured in Mexico using precursor chemicals primarily sourced from China and is then transported into the U.S. through cartels.

Straight Arrow News contributor Adrienne Lawrence is supportive of any effort aimed at reducing the influx of fentanyl into the United States. However, she contends that addressing the production and trafficking alone is insufficient. Lawrence delves into the underlying issues of the fentanyl crisis, emphasizing that Biden must confront these issues to achieve a more substantial impact.

Apparently, China has a thriving chemical manufacturing industry that pumps out many of the compounds used to create fentanyl and the U.S. has accused China of being a major player in the fentanyl trade itself.

Now given that hundreds of hundreds of thousands of Americans have died due to the drug, Biden wants China to crack down on its production of fentanyl, and the manufacturing of the chemicals that make the drug.

As much as I value human life — and I fully appreciate Biden’s desire to curb the circulation of fentanyl — this approach really seems to seek to put a band-aid on a bullet wound.

As the Chinese government has noted, the United States has a culture of drug use. So even if China were to cut its production and manufacturing, I think that Americans are going to find another way to get fentanyl or to simply get high.

Addressing our drug culture, more specifically, the underlying reasons for drug abuse, is what Biden should be focused on, not trying to shift the blame to China.

President Biden recently met with Chinese leader Xi Jingping to talk about geopolitical issues. Among them, fentanyl — the opioid capable of being 100 times as potent as morphine.

Apparently China has a thriving chemical manufacturing industry that pumps out many of the compounds used to create fentanyl, and the U.S. has accused China of being a major player in the fentanyl trade itself.

Now, given that hundreds of thousands of Americans have died due to the drug, Biden wants China to crack down on its production of fentanyl and the manufacturing of the chemicals that make the drug.

As much as I value human life — and I fully appreciate Biden’s desire to curb the circulation of fentanyl — this approach really seems to seek to put a band aid on a bullet wound.

As the Chinese government has noted, the United States has a culture of drug use. So even if China were to cut its production and manufacturing, I think that Americans are going to find another way to get fentanyl or to simply get high addressing our drug culture.

More specifically, the underlying reasons for drug abuse is what Biden should be focused on not trying to shift the blame to China.

Let’s be real here. Every time the United States has a drug epidemic, purported or otherwise, it’s some other country’s fault: with cocaine, it was Colombia; opioids, Afghanistan; now, fentanyl, China.

I completely get that these drugs are cultivated in those regions, but at what point will the U.S. government appreciate that the common factor in all of these epidemics is Americans. In it’s 2022 report, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime reported that North Americans demand for cannabis, cocaine and amphetamine stimulants remains the highest in the world.

South Asia has beat on opioid use. But hey, we’re still showing out in that category with 11 million active opioid users. Columbia didn’t force blow up our nostrils and China isn’t forcing fentanyl down our throats.

It is we the people who are seeking narcotics. We want to escape our reality and why wouldn’t we?

More than 12% of Americans live below the federal poverty line, 70% of millennials say they can’t afford to buy a home, more than half of Americans are not prepared for retirement. The lowest 50% of earners only own 2.5% of the total wealth in the U.S. that I also mentioned the ongoing funding of wars retraction of abortion rights raging climate crisis need I go on.

Biden needs to leave other nations alone and mind his own. Our basic needs as Americans are not met and they must be consistently. We need adequate shelter and safety, food and clean water, jobs that pay livable wages, accessible health care for all and so on.

As the United Nations emphasized, countries needed to give greater priority to addressing mental health and efforts to prevent as well as treat drug use disorders.

And speaking of treatment, Biden should be engaged on the back end of drug abuse issues. Reduce if not eliminate legal sanctions and penalties that treat substance abuse like a crime rather than a disease.

Increase funding for an access to treatment centers, remove the social stigma that interferes with individuals seeking help, be realistic about what’s going on and why fentanyl is no joke. It’s contributing to high levels of overdoses, transforming drug markets across the United States.

While reducing access to fentanyl definitely could be helpful, reducing the demand overall would be game changing. Biden should be investing his time there as opposed to pointing fingers toward the east.

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