Drug Policy Alliance Statement on Trump Escalating the International War on Drugs to Distract from Delayed COVID-19 Response

Press Release April 2, 2020
Media Contact

Matt Sutton 212-613-8026
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New York, NY – Below is a statement from Kassandra Frederique, Managing Director of Policy Advocacy and Campaigns at the Drug Policy Alliance, in response to comments President Trump made yesterday during his White House Briefing on Coronavirus to escalate the international war on drugs:

“In an effort to distract Americans from his delayed response to the COVID-19 crisis—which at this point we know will likely cost hundreds of thousands of lives—Trump is unnecessarily choosing to double down on the cruel and inhumane international war on drugs, which has already devastated countless communities domestically and abroad. By allocating scarce and valuable PPE to soldiers for the escalation of this ineffective and elective war, Trump is nonsensically preventing these vital supplies from reaching the hands of our doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers—who are fighting a critical battle across the country and begging in vain every day for these resources. 

Meanwhile, more people serving time on federal drug charges have been pronounced dead of COVID-19 and others will follow. This highlights how the federal government’s inaction to reduce prison capacity to ensure the health and wellness of those in its custody is causing devastating results.

Not only are these actions irresponsible given the current public health crisis we are in, but escalating the international drug war repeats the same misguided military response the U.S. has supported globally, which has harmed and destabilized countries like Colombia, Afghanistan and Mexico — all the while failing to reduce drug supply or drug use. Instead of doubling down on the war on drugs that has been a failure in every sense, we should be focused on rebuilding communities and fostering the health and safety of all people. This is true at all times, but especially during a global pandemic.

If Trump truly wants to address international drug trade, then he should follow the lead of legislators in British Columbia, Canada, where the government is taking charge of ensuring a safe supply of opioids for dependent users. Regulation is the only way to end the violence associated with the drug trade. Our principle focus should be public health and securing the wellbeing of the most vulnerable in our society.”

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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