Acting Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy Michael Botticelli unveiled the Obama Administration’s latest update to their 2014 National Drug Control Strategy in Roanoke, Virginia, on Wednesday.
“This Strategy,.. rejects the notion that we can arrest and incarcerate our way out of the nation’s drug problem,” said Botticelli in a press conference held at a drug treatment facility in Roanoke. “Instead, it builds on decades of research demonstrating that while law enforcement should always remain a vital piece to protecting public safety, addiction is a brain disorder—one that can be prevented and treated, and from which people recover.”
Roanoke was chosen as the site for the unveiling because it is a city that has success in implementing plans on a municipal level that are similar to plans for the national level outlined in the 2014 Strategy. These include providing access to treatment with a focus on compassion and prevention, as well as the commitment to alternatives to incarceration for drug offenders. One way in which Roanoke has demonstrated its commitment to this approach is through establishing Virginia’s first ever drug court. In addition, both Roanoke’s and the White House’s plan includes the flexibility for local solutions to meet local challenges.
Botticelli acknowledged that the update involves little change to the existing policies but stressed that it does increase the focus on the growing concern surrounding heroin use and prescription painkiller abuse.
“With the reports of increasing heroin use in many American communities, including right here in Virginia, we are growing increasingly concerned by the potential transition from prescription opioid abuse to heroin and injected drug use,” Botticelli said.
Meanwhile, the White House’s opposition to the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana remains the same.
“Because quite honestly it sends the wrong message to our youth,” said Botticelli.