Nation's Mayors Take a Stand For Harm Reduction

Submitted by smorgan on
The United States Conference of Mayors has put saving lives ahead of drug war politics and rejected the Drug Czar's dangerous public policy ideas. Via the Drug Policy Alliance:

The USCM last year declared the war on drugs a failure and called for a “New Bottom Line” in U.S. drug policy, which should be measured by the number of lives saved rather than the number of people imprisoned. This year’s resolution sets forth a comprehensive strategy for cities and states to reduce overdose morbidity and mortality by:

*Supporting local programs that distribute naloxone – an opiate antagonist medication effective in reversing the respiratory failure that typically causes death from opioid overdose – directly to drug users, their friends, families and communities;
*Urging state governments to adopt emergency “Good Samaritan” immunity policies that shield from prosecution people who are experiencing or have witnessed an accidental or intentional drug overdose and who have contacted 911 to request emergency medical treatment for the victim of drug toxicity or overdose;
*Calling on the National Institute of Drug Abuse and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to urgently fund research to evaluate scientifically the effectiveness of overdose prevention interventions and develop model programs; and
*Calling on the Food and Drug Administration to take all necessary and reasonable steps to facilitate the testing and approval of nasal and/or over-the-counter formulations of naloxone and to consider recommending prescription naloxone concurrent with prescribing strong opioid analgesics

None of this should be even remotely controversial, and yet it is. Shockingly, the Drug Czar's office is actually opposed to distributing overdoses prevention kits based on the callous theory that bad outcomes will teach users to behave:

Madras says the rescue programs might take away the drug user’s motivation to get into detoxification and drug treatment.

"Sometimes having an overdose, being in an emergency room, having that contact with a health care professional is enough to make a person snap into the reality of the situation and snap into having someone give them services," Madras says. [NPR]

Thinking about this, I can't get over how sad and embarrassing it is that our mayors are forced to take a leadership role in developing sensible drug policies at the national level when we have a White House office that's supposed to be doing that. The public officials in Washington, D.C. who've been tasked with addressing the nation's drug problem have abdicated that role, arguing instead for malicious restrictions on proven life-saving interventions.

America's mayors deserve our gratitude for stepping forward and doing what they can to fill the gaping hole created by the Drug Czar's pitiful lack of leadership with regards to preventing overdose deaths.

Update: SSDP has a page where you can contact your state legislators about Good Samaritan policies. It only takes a second, do it.

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