Portman Introduces Combating Meth & Cocaine Act


Legislation Will Give States More Flexibility to Use Federal Funding to Address Resurgence of Meth & Cocaine


June 20, 2019 | Press Releases

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) today introduced new legislation – the Combating Meth & Cocaine Act – to give states more flexibility to use federal funding to address the resurgence of psychostimulants such as methamphetamine and cocaine. Specifically, the bill expands the use of the State Opioid Response Grant funding to address rising use and overdose deaths attributed to the abuse of methamphetamine and cocaine. This bill also authorizes the State Opioid Response Grant program for five years, providing $500 million annually, to ensure there is a stable funding stream to states. The text of the bill is here.

“When I talk to law enforcement, treatment providers and others on the frontlines of the drug crisis, I am increasingly hearing about the resurgence of methamphetamine and cocaine overdoses across Ohio,” said Senator Portman. “I’m pleased that Congress has provided significant additional resources to support the efforts of states and local communities. Unfortunately, the State Opioid Response Grants cannot be used to combat the drug crisis beyond opioids. This legislation gives states more flexibility to use this funding to address the resurgence of methamphetamine and cocaine, which will better address the on-the-ground reality of addiction in my state and many others.”

NOTE: There has been a resurgence of methamphetamine and cocaine overdoses in Ohio and around the United States. According to an annual survey by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, in 2016, 2.4 million Americans said they recently had started using cocaine, methamphetamines or prescription stimulants.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, deaths involving cocaine and psychostimulants have increased nationwide in recent years. Among the more than 70,000 drug overdose deaths in 2017, more than 23,000 – or nearly a third – involved cocaine, meth, or both. From 2016 to 2017, death rates involving psychostimulants like meth and cocaine each increased by approximately 33 percent.  According to an October 2018 report from Ohio University, psychostimulants were found in just nine unintentional overdose deaths in 2010. That number rose to 556 in 2017, an increase of more than 6,000 percent. That same year, Ohio also had more than 1,500 individuals die of cocaine overdoses, almost a 140 percent increase from the year before.

In the last several years, Congress has made an historic investment to combat the opioid epidemic through a variety of initiatives to support the efforts of states, localities, law enforcement, and nonprofits.  One of those initiatives, the 21st Century Cures Act, was enacted in 2016 and provided $1 billion in grants to states to combat the opioids epidemic for fiscal years 2017 and 2018. This funding, now referred to as State Opioid Response Grants, provided another $500 million to states in fiscal year 2019. State Opioid Response Grants are designed to address the opioid epidemic broadly, but this grant funding has been interpreted to exclude resources for the rising abuse of psychostimulants. The Combating Meth and Cocaine Act explicitly broadens the use of the State Opioid Response Grants to give states the flexibility to use this funding to address the resurgence of methamphetamine and cocaine. It also authorizes the State Opioid Response Grant program for five years, providing $500 million annually, to ensure there is a stable funding stream to states.

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