Narcan and Liberal Drug Policies Worsening Drug Crisis


Bhavani Nagendra Papudesi, MD, CC BY 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons


Liberal drug laws and government-funded interventions to make drug use safer normalize drug use and fuel the drug crisis.

Last year, 112,000 Americans died of drug overdoses, and American taxpayers are funding the crisis. Millions of dollars in Biden’s $1.9 Trillion pandemic Relief Bill went towards funding so-called “harm reduction” programs, which help people use drugs more safely but do not encourage them to stop using. This year, Biden-Harris allocated $39.4 million toward the President’s Unity Agenda, which includes harm reduction programs.

Meanwhile, a congressional committee discovered that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been subsidizing the companies that provide the precursor chemicals to Mexican drug cartels, who manufacture fentanyl, methamphetamine, and other drugs, which they smuggle through the Southern border. So, American taxpayers are not only funding the drug crisis but also funding China.

A backlash among liberals against the “war on drugs,” which they consider a racist failure, has caused a number of jurisdictions to take the opposite approach, liberalizing or decriminalizing drug use. Some have intentionally increased access to alcohol by allowing to-go sales and lowering taxes. Tax revenue has been one of the arguments Democrats use when trying to convince Republicans to legalize and tax marijuana, which is now legal in at least 37 states. But now, even those taxes are being removed because they were preventing some people from obtaining drugs.

Rather than trying to convince people that sobriety is the better way, liberal drug and alcohol programs have shifted their focus toward “harm reduction,” which seeks to mitigate the public health risks of drug use without stigmatizing users or requiring them to stop. By definition, removing the stigma means normalizing. It also nullifies the deterrent effect for first-time users who will believe that they can use drugs and still be a productive member of society, despite the evidence to the contrary.

As part of harm reduction, there has been increased funding for the distribution of Narcan and other overdose reversal medications, as well as programs that provide sterile drug paraphernalia and teach people how to use drugs safely “without requiring them to stop or reduce their use.”

Narcan is now available without a prescription, and last year, approximately 22 million doses were distributed in the US and Canada, at taxpayer expense. Narcan and other interventions only decrease the number of deaths, not the number of overdoses, which is many times higher.

Overdosing has been made “safer” by these drugs. They do not resolve the drug crisis. Even worse, by decreasing the number of deaths, the interventions allow the problem to disappear from the front page. Deaths remain on people’s minds; addiction doesn’t. Removing the lethality also removes the deterrent for young people.

The Democrats are disinterested in stopping drug use, so by legalizing drugs, they can claim to have reduced crime. In many American cities, irrespective of the law, progressive prosecutors refuse to prosecute what they consider low-level drug crimes.

A good example is the state of Oregon, which voted in 2020 to liberalize drug laws, decriminalizing possession of small amounts of even hard drugs. The measures were passed by the Democrat-led legislature, and the police stopped arresting offenders. Instead, officers gave users a ticket and a slip of paper with a phone number they could call to get into a treatment program. Records show that Portland police handed out 7,000 of these slips, but only a few hundred users ever made the call.

Marijuana was already legal in Oregon, so tax money from marijuana was put towards treatment programs. Three years later, the drug crisis in Oregon was worse.

Advocates for liberal drug policies argue, “the criminal justice system didn’t effectively treat addiction.” They also said it disproportionately harmed people of color. By ceasing drug arrests, they hoped to be able to decrease the racial disparity among prisoners. Decriminalization also brought down the crime rate by no longer counting drug offenses. However, other forms of crime increased, perpetrated by people trying to get money for drugs.

Before decriminalization, Portland’s violent crime rate was below the national average. By 2022, Portland saw a record number of homicides. This dropped off a bit in 2023, and there were claims that other crimes dropped as well, but traffic fatalities increased to record levels, while shoplifting arrests increased by 88%. Portland’s property crime rate is higher than the national average and rose steadily until 2023, when it came down slightly. But it is still higher than pre-drug legalization. And most predictably, from 2019 to 2022, the rate of opioid deaths increased by 241%.

While many sources claim that overall crime rates have dropped in cities that legalized drugs, the statistic is misleading. This is evidenced not only by Oregon, but also by other municipalities that decriminalized drugs or liberalized enforcement and have seen an increase in drug use, overdoses, and certain kinds of crime. This has been true in Seattle, where the claim was that overall crime was down, but there was an increase in homicides and auto thefts.

San Francisco has seen an increase in drug-related crimes, as well as the prevalence of dealers and violence. Crime is up in New York, where the liberal governor wants to deploy the National Guard to keep order in the subways. Philadelphia is now known as the capital of the Xylazine zombie drug crisis, and Los Angeles is a fentanyl hub, experiencing rampant shoplifting, theft, and an increase in property crime.

One way that the statistics are being misrepresented is that many of these cities are claiming a decrease in violent crime in 2023, and this may be true, but only because 2022 experienced a severe spike in crime. This may have been the final effects of lockdowns and COVID restrictions which, in some cases, were not completely eliminated until the middle or end of the year. However, in most cases, the 2023 numbers are not lower than 2020 or pre-drug-liberalization figures.

No matter how they try to spin it, drug usage and deaths are up. In 2020, 27 million Americans reported being drug users, including marijuana, opioids, or amphetamines. Last year, the number climbed to 37.3 million. About 10% of Americans now have problems with alcohol abuse, and 6% are drug addicts. Most heartbreaking, nationwide, 22 teens are dying each week of drug overdoses.

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Dr. Antonio Graceffo, PhD, China MBA, is an economist and national security analyst with a focus on China and Russia. He is a graduate of American Military University.

You can email Antonio Graceffo here, and read more of Antonio Graceffo's articles here.


Thanks for sharing!