Council Member Corey Johnson (photo: William Alatriste)

Time for City to Overhaul Drug Strategy

On Thursday, April 16, City Council Member Corey Johnson introduced legislation to create an Office of Drug Strategy to oversee New York City’s myriad and sometimes contradictory approaches to the problems associated with drug use. This new office could play an important role in coordinating dozens of agencies that deal with relevant issues. Moreover, it could move the city away from a primarily punitive approach to drugs and toward one based on research and best practices – increasing the health and safety of individuals and communities while saving the city money.

Despite decades of a relentless War on Drugs, drugs are cheaper, of higher quality, and more easily available than ever. While concerted police action has helped remove much of the most visible drug dealing, drugs are widely available to anyone who wants them. Surveys indicate that high school students have almost universal access to drugs – though most choose not to use them. And relying on police and prisons to try to stomp out drug use has been a failure for people who use drugs and their families.

In recent years deaths from heroin overdoses have increased by 100%, killing more people than homicides. Too often people experiencing drug use problems are given few options. Existing voluntary drug treatment programs are overwhelmed by demand. Even those with good insurance have difficulty accessing high quality care. And stigma is widespread, in part because we continue to criminalize people who use drugs.

Read the full article here.

Credit: Gotham Gazette

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