April 18, 2022
Regarding the April 13 Metro article “Northeast fentanyl deaths reach 10”:
D.C. must do more to save lives. We are undoubtedly experiencing a serious public health emergency that requires a shift in the status quo of relying on punishment to address drug use and overdose. D.C. leaders can do more to prevent overdoses by investing in the evidence-based approaches outlined in the Campaign to Decriminalize Poverty. Drug-checking services would allow Washingtonians who use drugs to better navigate the adulterated drug supply, while a 24/7 harm-reduction center would provide access to much-needed overdose prevention, primary care and social services.
Voters support a health-based approach that decriminalizes small amounts of drugs for personal use and focuses on building out a public health infrastructure to support drug user health. Implementing these policies would remove the fear of being arrested and increase access to lifesaving services. The tragedies in Northeast and Southwest Washington are just the latest in a crisis of preventable deaths. The mayor and D.C. Council should urgently divest from failed punitive approaches and immediately advance evidence-backed and community-supported alternatives.
Queen Adesuyi, Washington
The writer is a core organizer for the #DecrimPovertyDC campaign.