Democratic elected officials are emphasizing the importance of a multifaceted approach to combat America’s opioid crisis, while distancing themselves from progressive calls to defund the police and legalize drugs. Rep. Henry Cuellar, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, and Texas state Sen. Royce West discussed the next steps needed to confront the crisis at a recent forum hosted by POLITICO.
One key consensus among the panelists is the need to focus on stopping drugs at the border and prosecuting dealers, in addition to prioritizing treatment and prevention efforts. The alarming increase in fatal drug overdoses during the Covid pandemic has underscored the urgency of addressing this issue.
While some progressive voices have advocated for drug legalization and defunding the police, the panelists argued that law enforcement still has a crucial role to play. Sen. West defended a new Texas law that allows prosecutors to charge fentanyl dealers with murder and increases penalties for drug manufacturing and delivery. Attorney General Rosenblum acknowledged the fentanyl problem in Portland and emphasized the importance of interdiction and prosecution.
Rep. Cuellar also highlighted the need for greater cooperation from the Mexican government in tackling the crisis. While rejecting calls for military action against Mexican cartels, Cuellar expressed frustration with the lack of meaningful action by the Mexican government and urged the Biden administration to take a firmer stance.
The panelists also emphasized the importance of naloxone, an opioid overdose reversal drug, and fentanyl test strips in saving lives. They advocated for wider access to naloxone, making it available in places like schools and businesses. Fentanyl test strips, which can detect the presence of the potent drug, were recognized as an effective harm reduction tool. However, resistance to their use remains, with some states treating them as drug paraphernalia.
In conclusion, the Democratic officials stressed the need for a comprehensive approach that combines law enforcement, treatment, and prevention strategies to tackle America’s opioid crisis. They called for collaboration and increased efforts from all levels of government, including greater cooperation with Mexico, to effectively address this ongoing public health emergency.
What is the main focus of the Democratic officials’ discussion?
The Democratic officials emphasized the need for a comprehensive approach to address America’s opioid crisis, highlighting the importance of stopping drugs at the border, prosecuting dealers, and prioritizing treatment and prevention efforts.
Did the officials support the progressive calls to defund the police and legalize drugs?
No, the officials distanced themselves from these progressive stances and argued that law enforcement still plays a crucial role in tackling the opioid crisis.
What are some of the challenges in addressing the crisis?
Some challenges include the lack of cooperation from the Mexican government in stopping the flow of drugs across the border and the resistance to widely adopting harm reduction tools like fentanyl test strips in some states.
What harm reduction strategies did the panelists advocate for?
The panelists stressed the importance of wider access to naloxone, the opioid overdose reversal drug, and highlighted the effectiveness of fentanyl test strips in detecting the presence of the potent drug. They called for naloxone to be made available in schools and businesses and for the legalization of fentanyl test strips.