IOWA CITY, Iowa (KWWL) - The Eastern Iowa nonprofit Iowa Harm Reduction Coalition is educating voters about how 2020 Democratic candidates propose to tackle the war on drugs.
“We really wanted to bring drug policy and criminal justice reform to the forefront,” IHRC coordinator Tiffany Carter said.
Drug overdose deaths have increased 46% since 2009, making them the third-leading cause of injury-related deaths in Iowa. Carter knows how many people it’s affected.
“It’s very rare to meet an Iowan who doesn’t know somebody who’s been impacted by substance abuse or even overdose,” Carter said.
Carter and her team took the ten leading Democratic candidates from a September poll and have been compounding their stances on nine issues like stopping the spread of HIV; debuting them in a new website late last month.
The Center for Disease Control declared Iowa was at risk for an HIV outbreak back in 2017. Carter thinks there’s more room for candidates to discuss this and the spread of Hepatitis C in rural areas across the country.
“We see those conditions increase rapidly because they aren’t accessing care,” Carter said. “I think Hepatitis C has kind of been ‘on the back-burner’ of issues candidates are discussing.”
Former Director of the Iowa Department of Public Health Sen. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, (R) District 41, has worked with IHRC in the past and agrees more voters should be educated on drug issues.
"These are issues that have a broad focus,” Sen. Miller-Meeks said. “There's a public health concern, an infectious diseases concern, a law enforcement concern."
IHRC believes the war on drugs is a bipartisan effort. It has sat down with two democratic candidates to discuss their policies and hopes to do more soon.