President Obama
United States of America

The United States is in the midst of a growing opioid overdose epidemic. This public health crisis claimed the lives of nearly 29,000 people in 2014 alone, and has made many communities across the country vulnerable to outbreaks of HIV and viral hepatitis. We call on President Obama, in his last year in office, to make drug policy reform part of his presidential legacy by explicitly endorsing and embracing harm reduction.

President Obama’s Administration will be remembered for leadership on criminal justice reform, expanding access to treatment and recovery through health care reform, and a commitment to a public health approach to drug problems. His Administration has supported and expanded access to critical and life-saving harm reduction strategies, including syringe exchange programs, overdose education and naloxone distribution, and medication-assisted treatment. However, President Obama has not yet directly affirmed the broader role of harm reduction itself as a vital element of a comprehensive drug strategy.

Silence on harm reduction leaves key elements of the Administration’s drug policy ambiguous and unclear, both globally at the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Drugs, and domestically for policymakers and communities across the country grappling with the overdose epidemic. In recent months, the President has highlighted his Administration’s efforts to tackle the prescription opioid and heroin crisis, challenging stigma and proposing evidence-based policies and investments. A stronger and clearer call for harm reduction from the White House would complement these initiatives. Ultimately, President Obama’s explicit endorsement of harm reduction would support and catalyze the work of community leaders, advocates and families to protect health and save lives.

We therefore call on President Obama to explicitly endorse and embrace harm reduction as a cornerstone of the United States’ drug policy.

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The PRESIDENT OBAMA: ENDORSE HARM REDUCTION AS A PRAGMATIC, EVIDENCE-BASED AND PERSON-CENTERED POLICY petition to President Obama was written by Harm Reduction Coalition and is in the category Health at GoPetition.