Former Drug Czars Join 70+ Public Health Organizations in Letter to Biden-Harris Transition on ONDCP

By November 24, 2020December 7th, 2020Uncategorized

A coalition comprised of the leadership of more than sixty public health and substance abuse organizations in the United States sent a letter to President-Elect Joe Biden and his transition team urging the President-Elect to focus on reprioritizing the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and re-elevate the Director of the ONDCP to its former position on the Cabinet.

According to the letter, President-Elect Joe Biden has been “one of the most stalwart elected officials advocating for sound drug policy and a robust Office of National Drug Control Policy.” The signers of the letter quotes the President-Elect from his defense of elevating the ONDCP Director to a Cabinet-level position:

“That provision (…a Cabinet-level national drug control policy director), to my mind, is the single most important part of this bill, since the new Cabinet officer, as appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, will for the first time provide the Federal Government with a top-level official specifically charged with formulating and implementing, across the full span of Federal anti-drug agencies, a unified national drug-control strategy.”

In closing, the signers of the letter argue that with the nation experiencing a raging opioid epidemic — which has only worsened in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for a strong ONDCP has never been greater.

“The incoming Biden Administration has the opportunity to elevate the ONDCP back to a Cabinet-level position at a time when our nation needs a full, hands-on-deck approach to drug policy,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) and a former senior drug policy advisor to the Obama Administration who organized the letter. “Our nation is in the midst of an addiction crisis and the need to implement evidence-based solutions has never been greater. It’s time for the ONDCP to once again have a seat at the decision-making table..”

Full text of the letter and a list of its signers are available below:

November 24, 2020
The Honorable Joe Biden
Presidential Transition Office
1401 Constitution Ave NW
Washington, DC 20230

Dear President-Elect Biden:

We the undersigned represent the major groups across all disciplines working on a comprehensive response to the drug crisis facing our nation, to include prevention, treatment, recovery support, medicine, overdose reversal, law enforcement, and criminal justice reform.

Our nation is undergoing an unprecedented addiction crisis. That is why we are urging a reprioritization of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), including the elevation of the Director to Cabinet-level.
For almost 40 years, you have been one of the most stalwart elected officials advocating for sound drug policy and a robust Office of National Drug Control Policy, with the Director in the Cabinet so that he or she could have the stature to interact with Cabinet heads.

In the early-1980s, despite resistance to the idea by the President and some colleagues, you proposed this idea, which came to fruition in 1988.

As you said then:

“That provision (…a Cabinet-level national drug control policy director), to my mind, is the single most important part of this bill, since the new Cabinet officer, as appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, will for the first time provide the Federal Government with a top-level official specifically charged with formulating and implementing, across the full span of Federal anti-drug agencies, a unified national drug-control strategy.”

(Congressional Record – Senate, Oct. 21, 1988)

In 2001, you reiterated this during the confirmation of George W. Bush’s director:

“I have argued that Cabinet-level status is necessary to give the position visibility commensurate with the depth of our Nation’s drug problem, providing our drug czar the clout to stop interagency feuding, fight for budgetary resources, and decertify inadequate agency drug budgets.”

(ONDCP Confirmation, Oct. 10, 2001)

This provision was the right thing to do in 1988 and in 2001. And it’s the right thing for our country now, especially as the opioid epidemic continues to rage. We need a strong ONDCP to lead our government’s efforts to reduce drug use and its consequences—an ONDCP with the budget, authority, and stature to make a difference during these difficult times.

We couldn’t agree more with you that “the drug czar must be on equal footing with the rest of the President’s Cabinet.”

Sincerely,

Hon. Patrick J. Kennedy
Former Member of Congress
Founder, Kennedy Forum for Mental Health

Kevin A. Sabet, PhD
President and Co-Founder, Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM)
Three-time drug policy advisor, Office of National Drug Control Policy

General Barry R. McCaffrey (Ret.)
Former Director, Office of National Drug Control Policy

William J. Bennett, PhD, JD
Former Director, Office of National Drug Control Policy

Hoover Adger, Jr., MD, MPH, MBA
Former Deputy Director, Office of National Drug Control Policy
Professor of Pediatrics, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

Bertha Madras, PhD
Former Deputy Director, Demand Reduction, Office of National Drug Control Policy
Professor of Psychobiology, Harvard Medical School

John Carnevale
Former Director of Programs, Budget, & Evaluation, Office of National Drug Control Policy

Major General Barrye Price (Ret.)
President & CEO, Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA)

Patricia Clay
Treatment Communities of America

Robert L. DuPont, MD
Founding Director, National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Second White House Drug Chief

Carson Fox
Chief Executive Officer, National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP)

Director Mike McDaniel
President, National HIDTA Directors Association (NHDA)

Hon. Mary Bono
Former Member of Congress
Chair & CEO, Mothers Against Prescription Drug Abuse
Chair-Elect CADCA

Peter G. Bourne, M.D.
Founding Director, Office of Drug Abuse Policy (ODAP)

Charles O’Keeffe
Deputy Director for International Affairs, Office of Drug Abuse Policy (ODAP)

David LaBahn
President & CEO
Association of Prosecuting Attorneys

Mark Dunn
Public Policy Director
National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP)

Bob Bushman
President, National Narcotic Officers’ Associations’ Coalition (NNOAC)

Alan I. Leshner, Ph.D.
Former Director, National Institute on Drug Abuse
National Institutes of Health

Friends of NIDA

Lorraine M. Martin
President & CEO, National Safety Council (NSC)

Sis Wenger
President/CEO
National Association for Children of Addiction (NACoA)

Melvin Wilson
Senior Policy Advisor
National Association of Social Workers (NASW)

Gregory Bunt, MD
Past President, International Society of Addiction Medicine

A. Eden Evins, MD, MPH
Cox Family Professor of Psychiatry in Addiction Medicine, Harvard Medical School

Paula Riggs, MD
Director, Addiction Science, Prevention, and Treatment & Vice Chair, Department of Psychiatry
University of Colorado School of Medicine

Keith Humphreys, PhD
Esther Ting Memorial Professor, Stanford University

Stuart Gitlow, MD, MPH, MBA
Past President, American Society of Addiction Medicine

Jessica Hulsey
President & CEO, Addiction Policy Forum

Carol Boyer
National Director, Community and Government Partnerships
Delphi Behavioral Health Group

Diana Fishbein
National Prevention Science Coalition to Improve Lives

Professor Dr. Dr. (h.c.) Marilyn A. Huestis
Thomas Jefferson University

Carol Boyer & Chris Collins
Co-Chairs, Howard County Recovery Oriented Systems of Care

Michael Langford
Regional Vice President, WestCare Georgia

Gary Mendell
Founder & CEO, Shatterproof

Richard Steinberg
CEO, WestCare Foundation

Sarah Potter
Addiction Professionals of North Carolina

Sue Rusche
President & CEO, National Families in Action

Sion Kim Harris, PhD CPH
Co-Director, Center for Adolescent Behavioral Health Research, Boston Children’s Hospital
Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School

Randi Schuster, PhD
Assistant Professor, Harvard Medical School
Director of Neuropsychology, Center for Addiction Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital

Jodi Gilman, PhD
Associate Professor, Harvard Medical School
Director of Neuroscience, Center for Addiction Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital

Mary K FitzGerald, JD/MBA
CEO, Eluna f/k/a The Moyer Foundation

Mary R. Grealy
President, Healthcare Leadership Council

Mitchell S. Rosenthal, MD
Founder, Phoenix House & President, Rosenthal Center for Addiction Studies

Creighton Drury
CEO, Partnership to End Addiction

Amy Ronshausen
Executive Director, Drug Free America Foundation, Inc.

Patty McCarthy
CEO, Faces & Voices of Recovery

The Collaborative for Effective Prescription Opioid Policies (CEPOP)

Chelsea Laliberté Barnes, MSSA, LSW
Live4Lali

Professor Yifrah Kaminer MD, MBA
University of Connecticut School of Medicine

Aaron Weiner, PhD, ABPP
Owner, Bridge Forward Group LLC
Licensed Clinical Psychologist (ABPP)
Master Addiction Counselor (NAADAC)

Paul Samuels, JD
Director/President, Legal Action Center

Pamela F. Rodriguez
TASC (Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities)

Peter Dsouza MBA, MA, LCADC
CEO, Addiction Recovery Inc.

Debra Pantin
Outreach Development Corp.

Luke J. Nasta, M.P.A., CASAC
CEO, Camelot of Staten Island Inc.

Robert Budsock,
CEO, Integrity House

Mark Cook
Drug Free Dickson Coalition

Pam Birtolo,
President, Flagler Open Arms Recovery Services

Patty Sykstus
President, Not One More Alabama

Carie Wimberly
Executive Director, Addiction Prevention Coalition

Mary Jo McMillen
Executive Director, Utah Support Advocates for Recovery Awareness (USARA)

Brian Evers,
Executive Director, Pyramid Life Center

James A. Greer
Chairman, National Drug and Alcohol Screening Association

Pamela Greenberg, President and CEO
Association for Behavioral Health and Wellness

Lori Robinson M.S.,R.D.
Moms Strong, LLC

Trish Burchette,
Certified Prevention Specialist, Alliance of Citizens Together Improving our Neighborhoods
(A.C.T.I.O.N Coalition)

Pete Nielsen, CEO
Behavioral Health Association of Providers

Jan Lepore-Jentleson, Executive Director
WestCare Ohio (DBA: East End Community Services)

Robert Carullo
Executive Director, Strengthening the Mid-Atlantic Region for Tomorrow (SMART)

Julie Peterson
Executive Director, Foundation for Healthy Generations

Priscilla Lisicich
President, Washington Association for Substance Abuse and Violence Prevention (WASAVP)

Beverly Watts Davis,
Chairperson of the Board, Ella Austin Community Center

Travis Landry
Regional Vice President, WestCare Wisconsin, Inc.

Laurel Dudley
Executive Director, Grand Boulevard Prevention Services

Howard Lathan
Associate Director, Chicago Area Project

Rev. Walter Jones
Executive Director, Fathers Who Care
West Garfield Park Community Stakeholders
Chair of the National Faith Based Prevention Alliance

Debbian Fletcher-Blake
CEO, VIP Community Services, Inc.

Kathryn Wells, MD
Executive Director, Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect
Associate Professor, University of Colorado School of Medicine

Doug Tieman
President & CEO
Caron Treatment Centers

Ted N. Strader
Creating lasting Family Connections
Program Developer
Resilient Futures Network, LLC

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Colton Grace

Author Colton Grace

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