National Coalition for Effective Drug Policies
Effective Drug Control Budget
FY 2000 Appropriations Recommendation

The National Coalition for Effective Drug Policies (NCEDP) is a coalition of national organizations dedicated to the development and implementation of federal policies that effectively address drug use and drug abuse. NCEDP is a recently formed coalition of health, religious, women's, civil rights, professional, and drug policy reform advocates who support federal funding priorities that emphasize public health approaches to drug use. We believe that two out of every three drug control dollars should be spent on prevention and rehabilitation. By making this change in budget emphasis, the United States will be able to provide adequate funding for programs that actually work to reduce drug use.

To begin to effectively address the harms of drug abuse and the risk of drug use, NCEDP recommends the following priorities and federal appropriations for Fiscal Year 2000.

 
Reduce adolescent drug abuse by increasing investment in America's youth.

Telling kids to 'just say no' to drugs without helping them reject drug use by giving them realistic options in life is a prescription for failure. Any successful drug control strategy must be firmly grounded in a realistic investment in programs that keep youth in school, help them develop life skills and give them the opportunity to succeed. As shown by federal studies, 1 drug use is often a 'default activity' for youths that have little or no constructive opportunities in their lives. NCEDP's FY 2000 request includes:

Closing the gap in after-school and summer school programs. The Children's Defense Fund estimates nearly five million children are home alone after school. Due to underreporting, the numbers are probably higher. Youth left home alone after school are more likely to engage in high-risk behavior like smoking, drinking, drug use, sex, or crime. Juvenile crime peaks between the hours of 3:00pm and 7:00pm. Despite this fact, a Department of Education survey of schools in low-income communities found that only one-third of schools in such neighborhoods offered before-and after-school programs.

The 21st Century Community Learning Centers, which provide grants for after-school care, was funded at $200 million in FY99. These programs are crucial to reduce drug and alcohol use among the nation's youth. NCEDP recommends that funding for this program be expanded to $7 billion 2 annually within five years. This would enable communities to offer after-school programs to at least 2.5 million children who are most at risk, conduct research to understand what are the most effective activities and design programs that successfully meet the unique needs of youth of different ages and address gender-specific youth issues. NCEDP supports the President's request for $600 million for FY2000.

Enhancement of efforts to prevent juvenile delinquency through effective programs developed at the local level: The Administration budget proposes a slight funding reduction from $98 million in FY 1999 to $95 million in FY2000 in juvenile delinquency prevention program funding. This program represents an effective model of community collaboration in which community stakeholders – locally elected officials, law enforcement, private nonprofit organizations, and youth workers-come together to develop a plan for juvenile delinquency prevention. Development of crime prevention councils is effective and keeps children and communities safe. Funding should be increased, not reduced. NCEDP recommends $150 million for this program in FY 2000.

In order to ensure the availability of funds for these programs, NCEDP recommends that the Drug Free Communities Act be amended so that the $20 million in annual funding may be spent on the programs mentioned above. In addition, the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) has budgeted $2 billion for reducing youth drug use in FY 2000. These funds should be restricted to programs that have a successful track record or show promise in reducing youth drug abuse.

NCEDP supports drug education that works; however, drug education programs do not have a record of success in the US. For example, study after study of the most widely used drug education program - DARE - indicate that it either does not work or is actually counterproductive and increases drug use. 3 Successful prevention messages and education programs must target specific populations and not assume that "one size" fits all, e.g. research shows that messages that work for boys do not necessarily communicate to girls who confront unique issues around sexual decision-making, pregnancy, domestic violence, sexual abuse, and self-esteem. Federally funded drug education programs must demonstrate their effectiveness and should be required to demonstrate that their curriculum, method of teaching and goals are not counterproductive, and effectively reach the populations for which they are intended.

Finally, ONDCP has requested $185 million for the media campaign in FY 2000 as part of a five year $1 billion budget. Similarly, ONDCP has requested $20 million in annual funding for its political allies. NCEDP recommends that the Drug Free Communities Act be amended so that funding is spent on effective programs that invest in youth, and not on seed money for local drug war advocates. NCEDP recommends fully funding the needs of America's youth before investing additional resources in public relations campaigns and political organizing.

 
Reduce drug abuse by fully funding treatment and rehabilitation needs.

The most effective way to reduce substance abuse and the crime, disease and other problems associated with it is to make treatment and rehabilitation widely and easily available before arrest or incarceration. 4 The purpose of The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 (Public Law 100-690, November 18, 1988) was to ensure that "treatment on request may be provided to all individuals desiring to rid themselves of their substance abuse problem." More than ten years later, according to ONDCP half the treatment needs in the United States remain unmet.

ONDCP estimates that it will cost $3.4 billion in additional funding to satisfy this goal of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act. NCEDP recommends that rehabilitation be increased sufficiently, so that in three years treatment on request is a reality. To that end, NCEDP supports increased FY 2000 appropriations for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant, Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, and Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Specifically, NCEDP urges the Congress to:

Increase federal funding for substance abuse treatment. Drug addiction is a chronic medical disorder and addicted individuals often relapse before they successfully recover. Consequently, providing easy access to a wide variety of drug treatment modalities is cost effective and the most viable public health strategy. NCEDP recommends that FY 2000 funding for the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant be increased to $2 billion, a $415 million increase above the FY 99 appropriations.

Expand programs targeting treatment and prevention services to under served populations. NCEDP recommends funding levels of $300 million for the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment and $300 million for the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, including $21 million for CSAP's High Risk Youth Grant Program. Another under served population is women -- only 41 percent of all women who need drug treatment actually receive it. 5 The 1996 Uniform Facility Data Set found that only 6 percent of the treatment programs surveyed provided prenatal care; 4.2 percent offered perinatal care, and 11.5 percent offered child care. For poor women, access to treatment is often impossible. A 1998 survey by the Child Welfare League of American found public child welfare agencies reported being able to find treatment help for only one in five pregnant women clients. New funds are desperately needed to increase access to drug treatment for pregnant women and women with children.

Increase the Mental Health Block Grant. The President proposes a $70 million increase in FY 2000 for the Mental Health Block Grant. This 24% increase represents its biggest increase since it was created in 1981. These funds are supplemented by the Children's Mental Health Services Grant Program, which was maintained at its $78 million funding level for FY 2000. The $40 million designated last year for school-based mental health initiatives to try to help curb school violence was continued in the FY 2000 budget. Block grant funds are used for both children and adults with emotional, mental and behavioral disturbances. Often mental health and substance abuse problems are related, and specialized treatment is needed for these situations. For example, at least one in two women in drug treatment are also diagnosed with other mental disorders, often related to domestic violence and sexual assault. Three in four women in drug treatment report having been assaulted by family members or partners; incest and rape during adolescence are common experiences. In this area, NCEDP supports the Administration's proposals.

Provide treatment services designed for the needs of individuals. Insufficient resources have been developed to deal with the special rehabilitation needs of particular groups, e.g. adolescents, women, and dually diagnosed individuals. New funds are needed to provide treatment services for poor pregnant women and women with children who are making the transition from welfare to work and economic self-sufficiency. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that between 10 and 20 percent of welfare recipients have a substance abuse problem. Drug treatment decreased welfare use by 10.7 percent and increased employment by 18.7 percent after one year, according to the 1996 National Treatment Improvement Evaluation Study. Minnesota found a 64 percent increase in employment among public aid recipients after treatment; a special Florida treatment program for pregnant or postpartum women and their children found a 76 percent increase in employment or school enrollment after treatment. Specific funds should be provided to meet these needs. NCEDP recommends $100 million in new FY 2000 appropriations for treatment for special needs.

Provide funding for maintenance therapies. For many addicts, the most effective treatment outcome can be achieved through maintenance therapies. Federal law currently allows for two maintenance drugs, methadone and LAMM. In addition to making these drugs more easily available, funding needs to be provided for research into new maintenance therapies. NCEDP recommends $10 million for pilot programs to which make methadone and other maintenance drugs available, safely and effectively.

 
Provide sufficient funding to stem the health emergencies of HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C.

The HIV epidemic in the United States is inextricably linked to substance abuse and needle sharing. New cases of HIV are spreading fastest among women who use drugs, women who are sexual partners of drug users, and their children, therefore this epidemic threatens all Americans. In addition to HIV education and prevention programs, providing clean needles to injection drug users has proven to prevent new HIV infections and provide a means of reaching injecting drug users who then seek drug treatment and other vital health care services. In order to prevent thousands of new cases of HIV and Hepatitis C, NCEDP recommends:

Increase funding for HIV prevention. Funding is needed to ensure that effective, well-evaluated prevention programs are established and maintained. NCEDP supports the National Organizations Responding to AIDS (NORA) request for $848 million in total funding for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention HIV education, surveillance, behavioral research, and prevention activities.

Provide federal funding for needle exchange. NCEDP urges the Congress to remove the barriers to federal funding for community-based needle exchange programs and to provide an additional $60 million 6 in FY 2000 funding to support locally-approved needle exchange efforts to prevent the further spread of HIV and Hepatitis C caused by needle sharing. Further, local jurisdictions who use their own funds, or funds from private sources, for needle exchange should not have federal funds threatened.

 
Ensure that drug enforcement is effective and the best use of resources.

The domestic drug enforcement budget has increased more than ten-fold since 1981 from 696.8 million dollars to $8.5 billion. 7 There is no evidence that this dramatic increase in drug enforcement dollars has reduced drug abuse. Rather, overdose deaths and emergency room mentions of drugs are at record highs. 8 Moreover, law enforcement efforts have not made drugs less available – in fact the price of heroin and cocaine have decreased while their purity has increased indicating a steadily growing supply. 9 Therefore, NCEDP recommends that the Congress:

Fund a cost-benefit analysis of drug enforcement. The NCEDP recommends that $1 million be designated to the National Institute of Justice to examine the cost effectiveness of drug enforcement compared to other methods of drug control, e.g. prevention, treatment, investment in youth. This study should also examine whether drug enforcement has met the Performance Measures of Effectiveness developed by ONDCP in consultation with the Congress and other agencies. Until this research is complete, funding for drug enforcement, including prison construction, should not be increased.

Funding alternatives to incarceration for non-violent drug offenders. According to recent reports, approximately 400,000 non-violent drug offenders are incarcerated in the United States. 10 Research by the Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates the cost per inmate in 1993 was $23,406, not including the cost of building of new prisons. 11 This is the most expensive way to handle low-level, non-violent offenders and it does nothing to prevent future involvement in the drug market.

NCEDP recommends reallocating $1 billion in drug enforcement funding to allow states to provide intensive supervised probation which allows probation officers to be responsible for a small number of people and work with the community to find education, jobs and develop family and community relationships. In addition, NCEDP recommends $5 million to train judges, prosecutors, defense lawyers and probation officers on alternatives to incarceration.

Require Fiscal Impact Statements for New Drug Laws. Historically, in election years, Congress has enacted lengthy prison sentences for drug crimes without any long-term planning or analysis of the cost of such laws or their other impacts. Other laws passed by Congress limiting access to public housing, financial assistance for education, and social services based on past drug arrests and/or convictions collectively compound the problems of poor women and families and leave them with no economic alternatives beyond the lucrative drug trade. NCEDP recommends that the appropriations committees require a fiscal impact statement before a new drug law is enacted.

Designate forfeiture funds to the most urgent drug control needs. ONDCP estimates that $869 million in forfeiture funds will be spent in FY 2000. These funds are used to fund additional law enforcement operations. NCEDP recommends that the Congress and the Administration amend the relevant laws 12 and regulations to ensure that these funds are not used for law enforcement until the funding needs of the most pressing areas of demand reduction are met. This includes making treatment on request a reality, fully investing in the needs of America's youth and providing sufficient funds for the prevention of the AIDS and Hepatitis-C epidemics.

 
Examine the impact of current drug policy and develop alternatives.

Over the past decade, drugs have become less expensive and more pure, and adolescents appear to be increasing their use of the most dangerous illegal drugs. By any objective measure, the US drug control policy is failing to prevent the use and supply of controlled substances. Moreover, the pursuit of these failed strategies creates an enormous cost in human and financial terms. In particular, the enforcement of drug laws continues to have a disproportionately negative impact on African Americans and other racial and ethnic minorities. Improving drug policy will require an independent evaluation of current drug policy and alternatives to it. NCEDP recommends:

An examination of the frequency and impact of traffic stops for suspected drug traffickers. There is significant evidence that many law enforcement officials use unconstitutional racial profiling in making traffic stops for alleged traffic violations. In many cases, police indicated that these individuals were stopped because they were suspected of possession of illegal drugs. NCEDP urges Congress to direct the Attorney General to undertake a nationwide study to examine the use of profiling for this purpose to determine the extent of the problem. NCEDP believes that this falls well within the current mandate for the Department of Justice; however, NCEDP supports additional funding for states and localities that participate in such a study.

An examination of the impact of criminal prosecution or restriction of civil liberties through child protection statutes of pregnant women. There is significant evidence that these approaches to substance abuse during pregnancy discourage substance-using or abusing women from seeking prenatal care, drug treatment, and other social services. We do know that provision of quality prenatal care to heavy cocaine users has been shown to significantly improve fetal health and development. In addition, these policies disproportionately affect poor women and women of color (even though estimated number of white women abusing drugs is substantially greater than the number in other race/ethnicity groups). Women of color are disproportionately targeted for screenings and subsequently penalized. Dr. Ira Chasnoff of the National Association for Families and Addiction conducted a study in Pinelias County, FL, which found that even the rate of illegal drug use was similar across racial and socioeconomic groups, poor black women were 10 times more likely to be targeted and reported than white women. The NCEDP supports funding for states and localities to participate in a nationwide study to examine the effectiveness and racial impact of policies that target pregnant women with prosecution, loss of child custody or other restrictions of their civil liberties.

 
Ensure international drug control and interdiction efforts are effective.

Halt the expansion of the interdiction budget and focus funding on demand reduction. The RAND Corporation's Drug Policy Center has found that it costs $366 million in interdiction funding to achieve a 1% reduction in cocaine consumption in the United States, and it costs $783 million in source-country drug eradication to achieve a 1% reduction in cocaine consumption. Meanwhile, a $34 million investment in drug treatment will yield the same 1% reduction in cocaine consumption. In spite of this evidence, spending on interdiction and source-country eradication programs has increased from $440 million in 1981 to $2.4 billion proposed in FY 2000. This is another law enforcement program that has been allowed to exponentially expand without any evidence that it has been effective. Indeed, the supply of heroin and cocaine has become more plentiful, more pure and less expensive throughout this escalation in funding.

Hold interdiction/international funds at 1999 levels and invest in urgent drug policy needs. The FY 1999 budget for international and interdiction was $2.4 billion. For FY 2000, ONDCP proposes $2.6 billion. NCEDP recommends keeping funding for interdiction and international programs at the level enacted for 1999 (excluding the special supplement provided) while these programs are examined for their cost effectiveness. The $200 million proposed increase in these areas should be used to fund the urgent needs of investing in America's youth, making treatment on request a reality and the health emergency of AIDS and Hepatitis-C prevention. The remaining international drug control budget should be directed to non-coercive alternative development programs to encourage farmers to end the production of drug crops.

Stop using the Department of Defense in drug enforcement. Our soldiers are not drug enforcement agents, and the use of Department of Defense (DoD) in drug enforcement has caused problems domestically – with an American high school student killed by US Marines – and internationally – with US military funding tied to human rights abuses and civil wars in Latin America. The use of the military in civilian law enforcement must be re-examined and harmonized with the tradition of prohibiting military involvement in civilian policing. DoD involvement in the drug war was a 1980s experiment that has to be viewed as a failure. It is time to end the experiment and invest in programs that work. NCEDP recommends that the $954 million in funding recommended for DoD in FY 2000 should be redirected to fund the urgent needs of investing in America's youth, making treatment on request a reality and the health emergency of AIDS and Hepatitis-C prevention.

 
Establish Commission to review drug policy and develop alternatives.

To ameliorate the highly politicized nature of the drug control debate and the several vested interests in the status quo, NCEDP recommends that Congress provide for an independent blue-ribbon commission with members appointed by the Congress and the President. This commission should conduct an objective review of the evidence regarding the impact of current federal drug policies and the availability and viability of alternative approaches and make recommendations to Congress and the Administration. The commission should be directed to review all options for control of tobacco, alcohol and illegal drugs. NCEDP recommends $1 million be appropriated for this purpose in FY 2000.


  1. Maria Carmona and Kathryn Stewart (1996). "A Review of Alternative Activities and Alternatives Programs in Youth-Oriented Prevention" CSAP Technical Report No. 13 Washington, DC: Center for Substance Abuse Prevention/SAMSHA.

  2. Children’s Defense Fund, "Clinton 2000 Budget, What’s in it for Children?" 1999.

  3. S.T. Ennett et al. (1994, September). "How Effective is Drug Abuse Resistance Education? A Meta-Analysis of Project DARE Outcome Evaluations, American Journal of Public Health.

  4. Rydell and Everingham. Controlling Cocaine: Supply Versus Demand Programs, RAND Corporation (Santa Monica, CA: 1994).

  5. Woodward, A., Epstein, J., Gfoerer, J., Melnick, D., Thoreson, R., and Willson, D., 1997, Spring, "The Drug Abuse Treatment Gap: Recent Estimates," Health Care Financing Review, Vol. 18, No. 3, Table 3, p. 15.

  6. North American Syringe Exchange Network, 1999.

  7. Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) "Breakdown of National Drug Control Budget by Function (1981-1995)."

  8. SAMHSA. (1996, August). Historical Estimates from the Drug Abuse Warning Network, p. 38. Washington, DC: Dept. Of Health and Human Services; NIDA. Data from the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN: Annual Medical Examiner Data [1981-1991].

  9. ONDCP. 1999 National Drug Control Strategy.

  10. Bureau of Justice Statistics, Profile of Jail Inmates 1996, Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office (1996, April), p. 1 & p. 4; Bureau of Justice Statistics, Prisoners in 1996, Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office (1997), pp. 10-1.

  11. Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice, Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics, 1994.

  12. 28 U.S.C. § 524(c)1 Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984; 31 U.S.C. § 9703(a) and Attorney Generals Guidelines at 13 and 22.

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