Matt Sutton 212-613-8026
Washington, D.C. – In response to the Biden-Harris Administration today releasing the 2022 National Drug Control Strategy to Congress, which—for the first time in history—included support for access and funding of harm reduction services and reducing barriers for life-saving medications, Grant Smith, Deputy Director of the Office of National Affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance, released the following statement:
“We applaud the Biden-Harris Administration for taking the historic step to support access and funding for harm reduction services and reduce barriers to life-saving medications. Despite over one million lives lost to drug overdose over the last 20-plus years, this is the first time an administration has included harm reduction in the National Drug Control Strategy.
“The Administration should continue to focus on its promise of equity by decreasing racial disparities in drug policy and the overdose crisis. From 2020 until now, Black people have experienced a 48.8% increase in overdose mortality, Hispanic or Latino people experienced a 40.1% increase, and American Indians and Alaska Natives experienced the highest increase in overdose mortality of all ethnic groups. This cannot continue. Criminalization approaches only saddle mostly Black, Hispanic and Indigenous people with criminal legal records and often incarceration, which increases their risk for infectious diseases, overdose and death.
“Prioritizing federal spending on public health rather than enforcement and interdiction is the best path forward. With over 105,000 of our friends, family and neighbors’ lives being lost to drug overdose during the past year–and that number continuing to increase–and the overdose crisis now costing the U.S. economy over $1 trillion annually, we must embrace the evidence-based public health approaches we know work and save lives. But it must be done outside of the harmful apparatus of the drug war to be effective and provide the kind of racial equity this administration has long promised.”