Musk Shares Opinion As Fentanyl Deaths Soar

The latest controversial post from billionaire and owner of X, Elon Musk, deals with the epidemic of fentanyl overdoses; Musk says the U.S. government should either crack down hard on the drug, or legalize it entirely.

It’s no secret that synthetic opioids like fentanyl are becoming a huge problem in America. In 2021 alone, over 70,600 deaths were reported due to overdoses on synthetic opioids.

Why is fentanyl such a huge problem compared to other drugs? It’s a combination of factors that include the drug’s incredible potency compared to other drugs, the extensive international supply chain that funnels it into the hands of Americans, and the fact that fentanyl is commonly mixed into other drugs, causing unsuspecting users of other illicit substances to unknowingly overdose.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has stated that most of the fentanyl in the U.S. comes from one of two major drug cartels. While the cartels operate primarily out of Mexico, the chemicals used come from China, and the networks of the cartels stretch through around 50 other countries around the world.

With such a complex supply chain, and the fact that fentanyl users often don’t even know they’re taking it, the government’s traditional “war on drugs” approach doesn’t seem to be working.

This isn’t Musk’s first time making the point about legalizing fentanyl, and it’s far from his strangest opinion. While neither of his suggestions address the root cause of the problem, as the government is trying to do, both of them are achievable goals that could make a huge impact.

The billionaire’s first suggestion, legalizing fentanyl, may cause higher rates of addiction but would allow for regulation of the drug, cutting back on questionable doses. Another side effect would be to drive the price of the drug down drastically enough to destabilize the cartels that distribute them.

While this approach could cut back on deaths, it could create widespread problems with addiction. This proposition would appeal most heavily to Democrats and Libertarians, but would likely fall flat with congress, especially Republicans.

Musk’s other call to action, for “draconian penalties” for fentanyl possession, would go over much better with Republicans, but would lose traction among Democrats. While this measure could very effectively cut back on addiction and distribution is successful, such penalties could be incredibly difficult to enforce, and potentially result in nothing more than wasted resources and sneakier cartels.

Whether his suggestions are intended to be used in conjunction with the country’s current measures or instead of them, there is no question that either proposition would have a profound impact. Unfortunately, neither of them is likely to gain bipartisan support in the current political climate.

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