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NAMSDL Working with Others to Fight Drug and Alcohol Crisis

By Rich Long, Executive Director of PDAA and Director/Legal Resource Prosecutor of PDAI

Underfunding is one of the biggest challenges to fighting the drug and alcohol crisis in the U.S. today. National resources for treatment are 10 percent of what they should be to provide open beds, insurance, medication and support systems to people who struggle with substance abuse. The National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws (NAMSDL) has been working on model legislation to solve this issue and many others related to the drug and alcohol crisis for the past 15 years.

In 1992, NAMSDL began as The President’s Commission on Model State Drug Laws, appointed by President George H. W. Bush. The group, comprised of 24 various state officials from both parties, developed five volumes of model state drug laws on an array of topics: economic remedies, community mobilization, crime code enforcement, treatment, and drug-free families, schools and workplaces.

In late 1993, the group evolved into a non-profit that works with Office of National Drug Control Policy to continue to draft model laws and to pull stakeholders throughout the country together to develop model legislation based on best practices.

Today, NAMSDL looks at states and drug legislation that are successfully fighting the drug and alcohol crisis, and then drafts and redrafts laws, policies and regulations to support these best practices. The model laws drafted by the group are housed on the organization’s website in order to serve as a resource for interest groups or legislators that are interested in drafting legislation along similar lines.

An old friend of PDAA, Gary Tennis has stepped into the role of president of NAMSDL as of July 2017. Gary worked with Pennsylvania prosecutors for over 20 years as our association’s legislative liaison and briefly as interim executive director. He was a strong advocate for balancing tough on crime policies with prevention and treatment and later as our Commonwealth’s first Secretary for the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs. As president of NAMSDL, he will take his experience and comprehensive approach to the drug and alcohol crisis in the U.S. by focusing on prevention, intervention and the criminal and medical systems. In particular, Gary hopes to develop strong policies to combat drug and alcohol abuse on college campuses and to update Good Samaritan and naloxone laws.

“NAMSDL and the PDAA share the common vision that all stakeholders, including those in prevention, treatment and law enforcement, need to work together in order to have the most effective response to the drug and alcohol crisis we are now facing,” Tennis said.

NAMSDL is an important resource for governors, state legislators, attorneys general, local prosecutors, drug and alcohol professionals, health professionals, community leaders, the recovering community and others striving for comprehensive and effective state drug and alcohol laws, policies, regulations and programs. Organizations such as NAMSDL have a big part to play alongside law enforcement, legislators and stakeholders as we continue to work together to fight the alcohol and drug crisis in Pennsylvania and across the country.

If you would like to find out more about NAMSDL and the resources they provide, go to the NAMSDL website.