New strategy broadens focus to include specific actions on rural security and development, environmental protection, and supply reduction
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Office of National Drug Control Policy released details on the new, holistic U.S.-Colombia counternarcotics strategy developed by the Counternarcotics Working Group between the United States and Colombian governments. The strategy lays the framework to define broader measures of success for counternarcotics efforts in rural communities to include metrics on access to state services, institutional presence, income for licit producers, as well as eradication of coca. As part of the new strategy, the U.S. will support the Colombian government’s efforts to monitor and counter environmental crimes that sustain and fuel narcotrafficking groups and that have a profoundly negative impact on Colombia’s environment and the Amazon region. This strategy supports the Biden-Harris Administration’s broader drug policy strategy outlined in the Drug Policy Priorities for Year One, which include expanding access to evidence-based prevention, treatment, harm reduction, and recovery support services, as well reducing the supply of illicit drugs.
“The strategy developed by the United States and Colombian governments after months of bilateral discussions focuses on a holistic approach that recognizes the importance of security, justice, economic development, and environmental protections,” said Acting Director of National Drug Control Policy Regina LaBelle. “With this new strategy, we will work to decrease the availability of illicit substances in the United States and Colombia, while supporting greater security and prosperity in rural areas in Colombia. Colombia’s partnership with the United States is strong, and longstanding. The announcement of a new strategy is an important part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s broader efforts to address addiction and the overdose epidemic.”
The three pillars of the U.S.-Colombia counternarcotics strategy focus on:
- Drug Supply Reduction: This renewed effort links eradication, laboratory destruction, interdiction, drug demand reduction, anti-money laundering efforts, and bringing narcotraffickers to justice.
- Comprehensive Rural Security and Development: The strategy includes consolidating and sustaining progress through comprehensive Peace Accord implementation and robust investment in rural development, citizen security, and access to justice. This includes protecting community leaders who promote rule of law efforts; reducing dependency on coca; amplifying land formalization; and changing how the United States and Colombia measure our progression.
- Environmental protection: The United States will assist the Colombian government in its efforts to monitor and counter these environmental crimes that sustain and fuel narcotrafficking groups that have a profoundly negative impact on Colombia’s environment. Both countries are committed to exploring additional interventions that can yield multiple benefits such as restoring tropical rainforests, the elimination of coca cultivation fields and havens for cocaine labs, the denial of sanctuary for illegal armed groups, and opportunities to advance climate change goals in the pivotal Amazon region. Efforts will include reforestation and building resilience through a robust monitoring and security patrol element.
Background on the Biden-Harris Administration’s actions on addiction and the overdose epidemic
In its first-year drug policy priorities, the Biden-Harris Administration outlined a strategy that includes expanding access to evidence-based prevention, treatment, harm reduction, and recovery support services, as well reducing the supply of illicit drugs. Since January, the Office of National Drug Control Policy has worked with other agencies across the government to advance President Biden’s drug policy priorities. Among the actions taken in the first nine months of the Biden-Harris Administration are:
- The American Rescue Plan invested nearly $4 billion to allow the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and Health Resources and Services Administration to expand access to vital mental health and substance use disorder services. The funding also included $30 million in supports for harm reduction services—a historic amount that will enhance interventions like syringe services programs.
- HHS released the Practice Guidelines for the Administration of Buprenorphine for Treating Opioid Use Disorder, which exempt eligible health care providers from Federal certification requirements related to training, counseling and other ancillary services that are part of the process for obtaining a waiver to treat up to 30 patients with buprenorphine. This action expands access to evidence-based treatment by removing a critical barrier to buprenorphine prescribing.
- DEA lifted a decade-long moratorium on opioid treatment programs that want to include a mobile component. This rule change will help provide treatment to rural and other underserved communities, including incarcerated individuals.
- CDC and SAMHSA announced that Federal funding may now be used to purchase fentanyl test strips in an effort to help curb the dramatic spike in drug overdose deaths.
- ONDCP designated six new counties as part of its High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program. These counties, located in states like California, Illinois, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania, will receive support for regional law enforcement efforts to disrupt and dismantle drug trafficking organizations.
- ONDCP provided funding for the nationwide expansion of the HIDTA Overdose Response Strategy to all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia. The Strategy brings together drug intelligence officers and public health analysts at the local and regional level to share information and develop evidence-based intervention and support services that reduce overdoses.
- ONDCP provided funding to support the establishment of state-level model legislation that advances efforts to expand access to harm reduction services, as well as promote equity in access to treatment and drug enforcement efforts for underserved communities.
- ONDCP hosted more than 300 State, local, and Tribal leaders from all 50 States, Washington, D.C., American Samoa, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Northern Mariana Islands for a virtual convening entitled “Opioid Litigation Settlement: Using Evidence to Lead Action.” At the convening, government officials, researchers, and experts discussed how State, local, and Tribal governments can use evidence and data to guide decisions about how funds from opioid litigation can be spent to address addiction and the overdose epidemic, while advancing equity.
- ONDCP, HHS, and DOJ presented to Congress the Biden-Harris Administration’s recommendations for a long-term, consensus approach to reduce the supply and availability of illicitly manufactured fentanyl-related substances (FRS), while protecting civil rights and reducing barriers to scientific research for all Schedule I substances.
- ONDCP announced $13.2 million in grants for 106 Drug-Free Communities (DFC) Support Programs across the country working to prevent youth substance use, including prescription drugs, marijuana, tobacco, and alcohol. In June, ONDCP announced $3.2 million for 65 communities nationwide for its Community-Based Coalition Enhancement Grants to Address Local Drug Crisis Program to reduce youth substance use.
In addition to these actions, the President’s FY22 budget request calls for a $41.0 billion investment for national drug program agencies, a $669.9 million increase over the FY 2021 enacted level. The largest increases in funding are for critical public health interventions to expand research, prevention, treatment, harm reduction, and recovery support services, with targeted investments to meet the needs of populations at greatest risk for overdose and substance use disorder. The FY22 budget request also includes significant investments in reducing the supply of illicit substances.