Substance abuse is a major issue in New Hampshire—and, by extension, for the presidential hopefuls who go there seeking votes. With 334 registered overdose deaths last year, or 26.4 per 100,000 people, the state is among the hardest hit by the nation’s growing heroin epidemic. St. Anselm’s College, the site of tonight’s Democratic debate, is just a stone’s throw from Manchester, a large town whose mayor has been asking every candidate who passes through to lay out their ideas for improving prevention and treatment.
Each of the three remaining Democrats has made a point of incorporating the issue into their statewide campaigns, with Hillary Clinton even penning an op-ed for the local Union Leader on “how we can win the fight against substance abuse.” If drugs do come up tonight, take note of how—or whether—the candidates link their proposals to their broader stances on racial justice. Without a meaningful recognition that drug policy, as it currently stands, was formed in a racialized context, calls for future reform are just another way of pandering to the anxieties of white voters.