The Biden Administration recently released their drug policy priorities, stressing harm reduction, racial
equity, and assistance for people with substance use disorders. The plan notably endorses fentanyl strips to
identify the presence of fentanyl in illicit drugs. Regina LeBelle, the acting director of the Office of National
Drug Control Policy said she believes “fentanyl test strips are an important tool for engaging people and
building trust so that when they’re ready to seek treatment, they know where to turn”. This is a significant
shift from the Trump Administration, whose drug policy leaders opposed fentanyl strips as a tool due to
fears that substance users would use the strips to seek out fentanyl rather than avoid it.
The policy priorities also include expanding access to abuse treatment, advancing racial equity in future
drug policy, reducing the supply of illicit substances, and expanding employment opportunities for the
addiction workforce. Biden is also expected to announce his pick for Director of the Office of National Drug Control
Policy in the coming months. LeBelle helped formulate current policies while working on Biden’s transition
team, however she is only serving as acting director.
Majority Leader Schumer will support Marijuana Legalization, with or without Biden’s Support
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has been a longstanding advocate for federal legalization of
marijuana and recently made statements regarding upcoming Senate action under the Biden
Administration. Schumer told Politico that the Senate will work towards federal marijuana reform
legislation with or without President Biden’s support.
Biden has been an outlier among Democrats
regarding marijuana legalization. In the past, President Biden
opposed federal marijuana legalization due to evidence that
it may be a gateway drug for users. He instead has
historically favored decriminalizing marijuana and allowing
states to legalize recreational use of the drug. However,
Senator Schumer said the President’s hesitancy will not deter
the Senate from taking steps to legalize. Senator Schumer
believes state legalization efforts have been a successful
experiment in disproving theories of adverse societal impacts
due to marijuana legalization.

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