Proposed Federal Cuts to Drug Abuse Prevention Could Impact Minnesota Counties

May 09, 2017 10:17 PM

Local law enforcement departments in Minnesota are watching the White House closely after reports of funding cuts that could eliminate money that's used in the fight against drug abuse and drug trafficking.

Last week, a preliminary budget document showed major cuts to the White House's Office of National Drug Abuse Policy (ONDAP). The cuts include the elimination of two grant programs metro law enforcement agencies benefit from.

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"Traditionally our approach to drug abuse has been prevention, law enforcement and treatment, and ONDCP provides the playbook for doing that," said Carol Falcowski, one of Minnesota's leading experts on drug abuse and the opioid epidemic.

In October, five counties in the Twin Cities metro — Hennepin, Ramsey, Anoka, Dakota and Washington — were designated as "high-intensity drug trafficking areas," by the federal government. With that status came multiple resources and federal money to assist local police departments and sheriff's office.

RELATED: 5 Minnesota Counties Labeled ‘High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas’

"It's not an asset just to Minnesota, but it enables Minnesota to work better with other regions and the entire network across the country," Falcowski said.

But proposed cuts would eliminate both the high-intensity drug-trafficking area program and the $100 million drug-free communities program, which helps local organizations battle drugs in their communities.

Minnesota currently has 20 different grants from the drug-free communities program, according to Falcowski.

"I think dismantling this office would have very strong, and potentially very detrimental ripple effects," Falcowski said.

The White House has not commented on the proposed cuts, but the fight against the opioid epidemic and drug abuse crisis is an issue President Trump says is a priority for his administration. In March, he commissioned a new addiction task force.

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Kirsten Swanson

Copyright 2017 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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