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COVID-19, Drug Policy, and Racial Justice

September 24, 2020 12:00 p.m. Eastern

Cosponsored with Funders Concerned About AIDS and Substance Use Disorders Funders Collaborative

Amid the coronavirus pandemic and calls for police reform, the United States continues to face an epidemic of drug overdoses and substance use. Addressing these co-occurring crises first requires confronting the long, harmful history of drug war policies and the criminalization of drug use, particularly in communities of color. Efforts to reduce reliance on the criminal justice system and instead increase access to community-based harm reduction, mental health, and substance use services are underway across the country. This webinar featured a discussion on federal, state, and local efforts to strengthen social safety nets and expand access to effective overdose prevention and harm reduction interventions, such as safe injection sites, syringe exchange services, naloxone distribution, and fentanyl testing. Participants had an opportunity to share information, seek guidance, and discuss strategies at the intersection of health equity, behavioral health, and COVID-19 response. Speakers included Jose Benitez of Prevention Point Philadelphia and Kassandra Frederique of Drug Policy Alliance.