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The White House
For Immediate Release

Statement from Acting Director of White House Drug Policy Office on Mayors’ Endorsement of Obama Administration Drug Policy Reform Initiatives

U.S. Conference of Mayors Joins Administration in Support of Increasing Access to Lifesaving Overdose Reversal Drug, Expanding Smart on Crime Initiatives

(Dallas, TX) - Today, Michael Botticelli, Acting Director of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and President Obama’s top advisor on drug policy, released the following statement in response to the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ endorsement of several Obama Administration drug policy reform initiatives:

“Today, mayors from across the nation made their support of the President’s drug policy reform plan clear, and their endorsement comes at a critical time in addressing America’s drug problem. Drug use and its consequences are placing significant obstacles in the way of building healthier, safer, and more prosperous communities. In 2007 alone, the costs attributable to this challenge totaled more than $193 billion in lost productivity, criminal justice, and health costs. This complex problem requires all of us – including Federal, state, local and tribal officials – to work together to apply a more holistic approach to reducing drug use and its consequences. While law enforcement should always play a key role in protecting our communities from drug related harm, at the end of the day we cannot incarcerate our way out of the Nation’s drug problem. As one of the millions of Americans in long term recovery from a substance use disorder myself, I am living proof that addiction is a disease that can be successfully treated and recovered from, and that we must emphasize public health interventions to this challenge. 

I applaud the U.S. Conference of Mayors - particularly Mayor Marty Walsh of Boston and Mayor Ralph Becker of Salt Lake City who sponsored these resolutions - for their commitment to supporting evidence based alternatives to a law enforcement centric ‘war on drugs’ approach to drug policy.  Their support for alternatives to incarceration, increased access to naloxone, and for the millions of Americans in recovery will further strengthen our partnership with local communities to improve public health and public safety across America.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drug overdose deaths, driven by prescription painkillers, now surpass homicides and traffic crashes in the number of injury deaths in America. In 2010, approximately 100 Americans died from overdose every day. To address this challenge, the Obama Administration’s is placing an enhanced focus on overdose prevention and intervention to include increasing access to the emergency overdose reversal drug naloxone; expanded efforts to educate communities on how to intervene, prevent loss of life, and direct those in need to treatment; and strengthened efforts with interagency and international partners to dismantle criminal organizations involved in heroin trafficking.  

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