WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) – President Joe Biden has a new plan to tackle America’s drug problem.
White House Drug Czar Dr. Rahul Gupta says the plan takes historic new steps to help beat the epidemic.
“Our strategy focuses on saving as many lives as possible, as quickly as possible,” Gupta said.
The plan focuses on untreated addiction with $40 billion for expanding access to things like drug reversal medication, test strips, syringes and treatment programs.
“It is important that we meet people where they are. And in order to do that, we’ve got to make sure that we’re saving the lives first,” Gupta said.
Advocates like Grant Smith with the Drug Policy Alliance say it’s encouraging to see a focus on harm reduction strategies.
“We should be humanizing them and not criminalizing them or marginalizing them, and that’s what harm reduction does,” Smith said.
In order to be implemented, this drug control plan would need congressional support. Republican Rep. Rick Allen of Georgia says he does believe our country needs a plan to address drug overdoses.
“We have to have treatment. We have to help folks get off of the drugs and then we’ve got to make these drugs unavailable,” Allen said.
The Biden administration says a large part of the plan also includes funds to stop drug trafficking.
“Reduce the inflow of drugs into our communities so it gives the opportunities for our public health investments to take place,” Gupta said.
Rep. Allen says he likes the idea of investing more in border protection, but doesn’t think Biden’s plan does enough to stop the drug supply.
“The only way to stop the flow is to secure our border,” Allen said. “I didn’t see anything in it that said we’re going to secure our border. We’re going to build a wall.”
To take on the drug epidemic, lawmakers will have to find common ground.
“This is America’s issue. And we must come together to solve it as America’s issue,” Gupta said.