Vance calls Ryan’s pledge to decriminalize ‘all drug possession’ a ‘slap in the face’ of victims’ families

FIRST ON FOX: Ohio Democrat Rep. Tim Ryan was slammed by his opponent, Republican Senate candidate J.D. Vance, over his pledge to decriminalize the possession of all drugs while simultaneously pushing to label fentanyl a “weapon of mass destruction.”

Ryan wants to label the deadly opioid fentanyl a “weapon of mass destruction” but previously made an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) pledge to decriminalize “all drug possession.”

“If Tim Ryan wants someone’s vote, he will tell them whatever they want to hear,” Vance told Fox News Digital in an exclusive quote. “The fact that he would pledge to decriminalize the deadly fentanyl flooding our streets is a slap in the face to every family in Ohio that has faced this poison head-on.”


“Tim has had 20 years in Congress to deal with the fentanyl epidemic, but he’s been too busy climbing the political ladder to do anything about it. It’s time for new leadership and real solutions,” Vance added.

Tim Ryan, US Democrat Senate candidate for Ohio, made an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) pledge to decriminalize “all drug possession” in 2019.
(Gaelen Morse/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Fentanyl and the opioid pandemic are playing a major role in the midterm elections as more and more Americans are dying from the illicit narcotic flowing across the southern border in crisis.

Earlier this year in June, Ryan, who is running for Senate against Vance, introduced a House resolution to label illicit fentanyl 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,” Ryan said in a June press release.

“We cannot look away as this crisis worsens. It’s time we take a whole-of-government approach to fight it,” he continued. “That means using every resource we have at our disposal to get this off the streets and out of our neighborhoods.”

This resolution rings hollow, though, when juxtaposed to Ryan’s 2019 ACLU pledge while running for president to cut the prison population half that included a provision to decriminalize “all drug possession” — which would include illicit fentanyl.

The ACLU pledge also calls for bail reform “that reduces the number of people we lock up before trial, often simply because they are too poor to afford cash bail.”

Ryan’s campaign did not respond to Fox News Digital’s questions about the pledge compared to his legislation and whether the congressman still stands by it.

Ryan also made headlines earlier this month after it was revealed the Democrat congressman has taken campaign donations from drug distribution companies that have been named as key players in the opioid crisis killing Americans.

Republican Ohio Senate candidate J.D. Vance is running against Ryan for the open Senate seat.

Republican Ohio Senate candidate J.D. Vance is running against Ryan for the open Senate seat.
(AP Photo/Tom E. Puskar, File)

According to the Associated Press, Ryan took cash from the three biggest drug distributors in America — AmerisourceBergen, McKesson and Cardinal Health — between 2007 and August of this year.

Ryan received $27,000 from the drug distributors as he runs for Senate and, while only a portion of his $8.6 million war chest, the donations undermine the Ohio Democrat’s criticism of Vance over his anti-opioid nonprofit. 


In 2020, Ohio was third among states in overdose deaths, behind California and Florida, with 5,204 deaths.

Eighty-one percent of Ohio overdose deaths in 2020 had fentanyl involved, with the number rising from 76 percent in 2019.