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Kerlikowske Attempts to Correct Misleading Medical Marijuana Comments

Senate Confirms Treatment Expert as Deputy Director of ONDCP

Drug Czar Addresses Medicinal Cannabis Supporters' Concerns in FOrm Letter

Obama Administration Anti-Drug Budget Continues to Prioritize Interdiction Over Treatment

Drug Czar Reasserts White House Opposition to Cannabis Legalization, Misinformation Abounds

Kerlikowske Puts an End to "War on Drugs"

Holder Announces End to DEA Raids on State-Legal Marijuana Dispensaries

New Drug Czar Announced

Hundreds of Thousands Locked Out of Voting Because of Drug War Policies

Significant Differences Amid Candidates' Drug Policies

Prescription Drug Diversion Is Public Relations Focus Of 2008 Federal Drug Strategy

Fourteen Million Spent on ONDCP Super Bowl Ads

Congressional Oversight Committee Finds ONDCP Used To Promote Republican Candidates

ONDCP Issues Annual Strategy Report

Old Wine In Outdated Skins: Drug Czar Releases 2006 National Strategy Report

White House Releases 2007 Drug Control Budget Funding Summary, Fails To Report On Billions In Drug War Spending

Don't Let Door Hit You Where The Dog Should Have Bit You: Congressional Drug Warrior Calls For Resignation Of Drug Czar's Top Aide

Syracuse, NY: Auditor's Report Leads To City Council Hearings

King County, WA: King County Bar Association Leads Broad Coalition To Create Alternative To Drug War Policies

'Ignore The Facts, Full Steam Ahead': Drug Czar Releases 2005 National Drug Control Strategy

ONDCP Releases 2004 National Strategy -- Feds To Clamp Down On Pain Prescriptions, Increase Support For Student Drug Testing

NIDA Issues Evaluation Through 2003 Of Media Campaign -- No Changes, Ad Campaign Still A Failure

ONDCP Issues New Strategy, Budget; As Predicted Last Year, Budget Summary Attempts To Hide Billions In Drug War Cost

Federal Evaluation: ONDCP Ad Campaign A Failure, Yet Czar Begs Congress To Fully Fund Program

Drug War Budget Continues Climb, Reaches $19.2 Billion For FY2003; Agency Seeks To Hide Some Enforcement Spending


ONDCP Watch


White House Drug Strategy

Kerlikowske Attempts to Correct Misleading Medical Marijuana Comments

In an August 7, 2009 KOMO News interview ("Kerlikowske: Legal Pot 'Not in My Vocabulary'"), drug czar Gil Kerlikowske tried to douse the flames ignited by a late July appearance in Freso, CA during which the drug czar flatly denied marijuana's medicinal benefits. As he told the Seattle news outlet, "I certainly said that legalization is not in the president's vocabulary nor is it in mine [...]. But the other questioin was in reference to smoked marijuana. And as we know, the FDA has not determined that smoked marijuana has a value, and this is clearly a medical question and that's where I've been leaving it." He continued, "I should have said, 'smoked' marijuana and then gone on to say that this is clearly a question that should be answered by the medical community."

However, according to Americans for Safe Access (ASA) and other drug policy reform and patients advocate groups, Kerlikowske's correction did not go far enough. As ASA stated in an August 9, 2009 Opposing Views post, "Although it's nice to see a correction to his previous statement, and leaving it to the medical community is favorable to harmful and unnecessary law enforcement actions, the Drug Czar's position is still problematic." The group explains that "Just because the FDA does not recognize the medical efficacy of smoked marijuana [...] doesn't mean that such a position is factual." Indeed. At the moment, ASA "has a pending case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which argues against this assertion and uses a mountain of evidence to illustrate marijuana's medical efficacy." They provide not only links within the above cited statement but also follow it with sound medical research going back as far as 1999.

Moreover, ASA rightly contends that "the medical community has not offered any substantive alternatives" to smoked marijuana therapy. The government's go-to defense on this issue - Marinol, a pharmaceutical pill comprised of synthetic THC - "does not provide an adequate delivery system for people with nausea, takes too long to go take effect, is difficult to regulate dosages, and offers inferior efficacy to smoked marijuana for most patients that use it."

In concluding their rebuttal, ASA draws a parallel between Kerlikowske's oft-employed diatribe against prescription drug abuse (which he also discussed during the KOMO interview). As they state, "If the Drug Czar were to put two-and-two together, he'd find that many patients who use medical marijuana do so in order to scale down or completely eliminate the use of toxic pharmaceutical medication." The group then poses a pointed question: "If the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) can conclude as far back as 1988 that marijuana is 'one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man,' why can't we see fit to recognize its medical benefits and allow patients in need to make use of it?"

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Senate Confirms Treatment Expert as Deputy Director of ONDCP

As the Philadelphia Inquirer reported on August 8, 2009 ("Treatment Expert Confirmed for a Top Drug Post"), the Senate unanimously confirmed "University of Pennsylvania psychologyst A. Thomas McLellan as deputy director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy," or ONCDP for short. As the Inquirer explains, McLellan's confirmation "means that [he] will be the No. 2 to Gil Kerlikowske" and "will be charged with reducing the nation's demand for drugs."

Previously, McLellan worked as the executive director for the Treatment Research Institute, "a nonprofit he cofounded in Philadelphia 17 years ago to study and compare treatments and to translate scientific findings into clinical practice and public policy." According to the article, the 60-year-old's work places him among the country's "leading researcher[s] in addiction and treatment."

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Attorney General Acknowledges Limits of Incarceration as Crime Solution

According to an August 4, 2009 Chicago Tribune article, "U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, addressing the American Bar Association on Monday, called for getting not only tough but also 'smart' on crime, saying that jail is not the entire answer when it comes to law enforcement" ("Holder: Jail is Not Only Crime Solution"). While Holder has touted "smart on crime" over "tough on crime" ideologies several times in recent weeks, his admission that other means aside from incarceration might be better suited for certain crime control efforts remains unique to the Chicago speaking engagement. Citing the country's status as the world's largest incarcerator and economically unsustainable prison spending hikes, Holder told the assembled lawyers that he wanted to explore "new strategies and tools to fight crime," including prisoner re-entry studies, "drug court programs that offer alternatives to jail time for nonviolent criminals," and "reviewing federal sentencing and corrections policy," such as the crack versus powder cocaine disparity and differences in the sentences meted out to particular racial and ethnic groups.

All of this looks like good news, and hopefully it will remain that way. But some of Holder's proscriptions sound like something out of the novel 1984; for example, he "noted a New York program that uses data to map where crime is likely to happen, and [then deploys] more officers to those areas." The article also makes no mention of Holder acknowledging the potential net-widening effects of expanding drug court usage (indeed, the Tribune quotes Holder as having said, "[Drug court] programs give no one a free ride, [...] are strict and can be difficult to get through," keeping with the long tradition of public officials at least appearing "tough on crime," even if the AG prefers the term "smart"). Still, Holder insists that such programs - as well as other proposals such as "studying what happens to inmates once they leave prison and developing programs based more on their failure or success" - represent a step toward "mov[ing] past politics and ideology" and instead "building a criminal justice system based on fairness and effectiveness." As he stated, "We need to understand crime in context in order to prevent it."

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Drug Czar Addresses Medical Cannabis Supporters' Concerns in Form Letter

As reported earlier by Common Sense for Drug Policy, drug czar Gil Kerlikowske provided attendees of a Fresno, CA speaking engagement with some misinformation about medical marijuana in late July, and his lies blew up so magnificently in his face that he (or, more accurately, his Content Specialist, Keri) finally responded to the barrage of calls, letters, and emails he received from advocates and concerned citizens who took issue with his false claim that marijuana has no medicinal values. Unfortunately, as the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) reported in an August 3, 2009 press release ("Drug Czar Responds to Outraged Marijuana Supporters"), he did so with a cursory form letter, to which CSDP links courtesy of MPP.

MPP astutely notes that the "letter essentially hides behind a 2006 statement from the FDA, which claims, 'No sound scientific studies have supported medical use of smoked marijuana.'" Moreover, the Project points readers to the "numerous studies" contained on its website. Readers who want to look further into the issue should also check out Drug War Facts' "Medical Marijuana" section, as well as the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), and Americans for Safe Access, among other groups - to whom CSDP links on both its Medical Marijuana news section and its Links page - for more medical marijuana-related studies and research news.

However, MPP makes no mention of the fact that the federal government of which Kerlikowske's office is a part has for decades put tight restrictions on research pertaining to the medical benefits of marijuana. The letter claims that "What constitutes safe and effective medicine should continue to be based upon reviews of the appropriate science by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)." But the letter fails to address two important facts: first, that the FDA has been supplying a small number of patients with low-quality medicinal cannabis for thirty years, and second, that when researchers like Lyle Craker express their willingness to expand that limited governmental research effort, they are virtually always denied the opportunity to grow marijuana for research purposes, and obtaining even the low-grade marijuana the government supplies to researchers is not particularly easy. Thus, Kerlikowske's decision to "hid[e] behind a 2006 [FDA] statement" not only represents a blatant passing of the buck but also works to throw readers off the government's trail; in other words, in citing a three-year-old FDA opinion to back up his claims, Kerlikowske willfully ignores the role the Food and Drug Administration and the federal government of which it is a part have played in undermining scientific inquiries on the issue and preventing researchers from verifying - in a way that the government would find acceptable - medical cannabis patients' claims that the drug, legal in 13 states for therapeutic purposes, alleviates symptoms of certain illnesses and their treatments, not to mention the evidence provided by the researchers' colleagues regarding marijuana's medical benefits.

Medical marijuana supporters should continue hounding the Office of National Drug Control Policy and related agencies - FDA incuded - until we get our message across, but expecting a reasonable answer from the Office looks about as silly as Kerlikowske at this point.

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Obama Administration Anti-Drug Budget Continues to Prioritize Interdiction Over Treatment

The Baltimore Sun posed an interesting question in its July 27, 2009 edition ("Drug War's Wrong Focus"). After discussing drug czar Gil Kerlikowske's visit to the city the previous week, during which he "made the case for the expansion of drug courts to treat rather than imprison offenders and called for drugs to be considered a 'public health crisis,'" guest reporters Robert Weiner (former spokesman for the White House National Drug Policy Office) and Zoe Pagonis (a policy analyst at Weiner's eponymously named company of research associates) ask: "Why, then, is the Obama administration proposing to spend an even higher percentage of its anti-drug resources on law enforcement than the administration of George W. Bush?" As the article states, "in the 2010 budget, there is a 3.3 percent reduction in treatment and prevention initiatives since 2008, exacerbating the bias toward enforcement, which now represents 65.6 percent of the budget." The Bush administration spent "62.3 percent" of its anti-drug budget on enforcement measures.

The Sun cites numerous statistics to provide evidence that treatment initiatives and public health-based approaches are not only best for drug users but their communities as wholes as well. For example, "Participant's in the Baltimore City Drug Treatment Court were re-arrested 34.5 percent fewer times than other offenders," and "a study commissioned by the U.S. Army [found that] for every dollar invested in drug treatment, taxpayers save upward of $7 in crime-related reductions due to less incarceration and hospitalization." Indeed, Weiner and Pagonis spend much of the article advocating for treatment over incarceration due to the latter approach's cost-effectiveness. They contend that "the $5 billion currently budgeted for prevention and treatment" could produce "savings of $35 billion for American taxpayers." Perhaps most importantly, "20.8 million Americans [need] treatment but are unable to get it." The writers assert, "If we can spend $6 trillion to shore up our financial institutions and a trillion on Iraq [...], increasing drug treatment to stop the main catalyst of crime and save families would be an extraordinarily rational policy shift."

The wonky budget numbers reported in the Sun's article thus leave astute readers wondering what happened to promises Obama made on the campaign trail and in office to rely more heavily on science than ideology in policy-making decisions. As the President was quoted stating in a March 10, 2009 Washington Post article ("Obama Lifts Federal Funding Ban on Embryonic Stem Cell Research"), "we make decisions based on facts, not ideology." So, in light of proliferating studies citing the monetary, public health, and crime-reducing benefits of valuing drug treatment over incarcertaion, how can this purportedly evidence-based administration not just continue but ramp up funding for interdiction-based programs, which have for years proven ineffective, costly, damaging, and dangerous? The figures just don't add up.

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Drug Czar Reasserts White House Opposition to Cannabis Legalization, Misinformation Abounds

In a July 22, 2009 article ("Drug Czar Says U.S. Won't Back Pot Legalization"), Marc Benjamin of California's Fresno Bee reports that U.S. drug czar Gil Kerlikowske "said the federal government will not support legalizing marijuana." Restating an oft-quoted phrase, Kerlikowske told reporters that "Legalization is not in the president's vocabulary, and it's not in mine." The drug czar claims he "understand[s] why legislators" - particularly those of the California persuasion - are pushing taxes on "marijuana cultivation to help cash-strapped government agencies." However, he contends that "the federal government views marijuana as a harmful and addictive drug" with "no medical benefit," despite scientific and anecdotal evidence to the contrary.

Because he was speaking to a "downtown Fresno" audience about "Operation SOS - Save Our Sierra - a multiagency effort to eradicate marijuana in eastern Fresno County," Kerlikowske also cited environmental concerns, telling reporters that America's "federal government is not going to pull back on its efforts to curtail marijuana farming operations" in national parks and other out-of-the-way places. The Bee provides readers with a thorough explanation of the SOS plan. As Benjamin writes, "Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims" stated that "Planning for the operation began in February and focused on marijuana crops being backed by Mexican drug cartels." She told Benjamin that "many cartels are involved, but she would not name any because the investigation" - which has already eradicated "more than 314,000 plants [...] in 70 gardens" - is ongoing.

Kerlikowske's characterization of marijuana regulation and taxation proposals as misguided and socially dangerous solutions to the economic woes currently haunting California and its various municipalities looks particularly ridiculous when viewed in conjunction with the Save Our Sierra effort on which his visit focused. According to the Bee, "Officials say the marijuana-eradication operation will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars," though "the exact amount won't be known until agencies can add up staffing, vehicle and other costs." Already, SOS forces have confiscated "plants valued at more than $1.26 billion" in the operation, which began in the week preceding the drug czar's visit and has already netted - plants excluded - 82 arrests over the course of its 10 day existence.

While no one lauds the "trash, dead animals, and pesticide[ pollution]" that woodland marijuana gardens typically produce, legalizing, regulating and taxing the drug - as California lawmakers and drug policy reform advocates have proposed - could eradicate the problems associated with illegal forest growing operations and give state and federal economies a needed boost. In other words, were marijuana cultivation and distribution brought out from under the cloud of prohibition, the demand for illegally grown and environmentally hazardous marijuana would surely decline, and communities could reap not just the tax benefits but also the proceeds generated from cannabis retail sales themselves and shops peddling currently restricted commodities associated with the drug. Moreover, the federal government and its state counterparts could quit crowding jails with drug offenders and throwing valuable and increasingly scarce dollars at a problem that, under current drug control strategies, may never be solved.

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Kerlikowske Puts an End to "War on Drugs"

In a May 2009 interview with Reuters, Obama drug czar Gil Kerlikwoske stated that he "wants to banish the idea that the U.S. is fighting 'a war on drugs,'" the Wall Street Journal reported on May 14 ("White House Czar Calls for End to 'War on Drugs'"). Kerlikowske contended that, "Regardless of how you try to explain to people it's a 'war on drugs' or a 'war on a product,' people see a war as a war on them." He added, "We're not at war with people in this country"

Readers should not, however, take Kerlikowske's statement to mean that federal and state governments have decided to put an end to drug interdiction efforts. While the drug czar's words seem to signal a coming shift in policy, they more precisely represent a shift in rhetoric. Kerlikowske and his colleagues in the Obama administration do not support legalization or a massive overhaul of current drug policy. But, as the Wall Street Journal explains, "The Obama administration is likely to deal with drugs as a matter of public health rather than criminal justice alone, with treatment's role growing relative to incarceration." As evidence, the Journal mentions that the administration has already "called for an end to the disparity in how crimes involving crack cocaine and powder cocaine are dealt with," vowed that "federal authorities would no longer raid medical-marijuana dispensaries in the 13 states where voters have made medical marijuana legal," and shown some modicum of support for "ending the federal ban on needle exchange programs." In short, the new administration has made some small changes, but it has by no means ended the decades long battle against illicit drug use(rs) that will need more than a facelift to put the name "war on drugs" to rest.

Thus, in order to see how this change in rhetoric might translate into a change in policy, interested parties will simply have to keep themselves informed and their eyes on their governing bodies.

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Holder Announces End to DEA Raids on State-Legal Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder made clear that ending federal medical marijuana raids "is now American policy." As Holder stated, "What the President said during the campaign [...] is consistent with what we will be doing here in law enforcement." Click here to view US Attorney General Eric Holder's statement via YouTube.

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New Drug Czar Announced

Seattle Police Chief R. Gil Kerlikowske has been charged to control the nation's use and trade of illegal substances. According to The Washington Post March 12, 2009 article, ("Choice Of Drug Czar Indicates Focus On Treatment, Not Jail") "The choice of drug czar and the emphasis on alternative drug courts, announced by Vice President Biden, signal a sharp departure from Bush administration policies, gravitating away from cutting the supply of illicit drugs from foreign countries and toward curbing drug use in communities across the United States."

The article states, "Since President Richard Nixon first declared a war on drugs nearly four decades ago, the government has spent billions of dollars with mixed results, according to independent studies and drug policy scholars. In recent years, the number of high-school-age children abusing illegal substances has dipped, but marijuana use has inched upward, and drug offenders continue to flood the nation's courts. Kerlikowske's top deputy is expected to be A. Thomas McLellan, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania medical college and the chief executive of the Treatment Research Institute in Philadelphia, according to two sources in the drug control community who said the selection underscored the administration's philosophy of rehabilitation and outreach."

The article adds, "On the campaign trail, Obama and Biden promised to offer first-time, nonviolent offenders a chance to serve their sentences in a drug rehabilitation center rather than a stint in federal prison. In promoting wider use of drug courts, the administration is embracing an idea that has broad support in theory but has never been a main path for people with drug addictions who are charged with crimes. The nation's first drug court originated in Miami in the late 1980s at the urging of Janet Reno, who went on to become President Bill Clinton's attorney general. By the mid-1990s, the federal government was providing money for communities to plan and set up such courts--although not to help operate them long-term. According to John Roman, an Urban Institute researcher who has studied drug courts, they now exist in most of the nation's medium and large counties, but they are used for only approximately 55,000 of the 1.5 million Americans with drug addictions who are arrested each year on crimes."

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Hundreds of Thousands Locked Out of Voting Because of Drug War Policies

Estimates range from 300,000 to more than 900,000 former Florida felons who'll be staying home on Election Day because voting rights were taken--Many of these individuals are locked out of civic engagement because of previous drug charges. According to the Florida Times-Union October 23, 2008 article, ("Advocates Seek Changes In Fla Felon Rights System") "Many other ex-convicts have had their rights restored but remain unregistered because they don't know it. State officials say they've lost track of them and cannot notify them. On the other hand, thousands of ex-cons have been allowed to register and vote even though their rights haven't been restored.Those are symptoms of a broken system, says Mark Schlakman, senior program director at Florida State University's Center for the Advancement of Human Rights. Schlakman and other civil rights advocates have been pushing for two fundamental changes they say could fix the system, although it's too late to do anything before the Nov. 4 election. Once offenders have completed their sentences, including probation or parole, they should get their civil rights back, Schlakman said. That includes the rights to vote, sit on a jury and hold public office."

The article states, "Florida is one of only 10 states that don't automatically restore civil rights. Last year's rule change made restoration quicker for some, but those who have committed more serious crimes still must undergo investigations and get approval from the governor and at least two of three Cabinet members. The four sit together as the Board of Executive Clemency. The process can take years and the board turns down thousands of applications. There's a laundry list of crimes that don't qualify for the fast track. They include murder, rape, lewd conduct, robbery, aggravated battery, aggravated assault, aggravated stalking, first-degree trafficking in illegal drugs, arson, and first-degree burglary."

The article adds, "One problem Schlakman and other advocates face is that rights restoration is tied together with state licensing. While he thinks civil rights like voting should be automatically restored, he agrees the state can and should deny licenses to ex-felons for certain jobs like mortgage broker or teacher where there is a physical or fiscal danger. He thinks the issues should be separated. His second proposal is for the Clemency Board to revert to an automatic rights restoration rule adopted in 1975 when Reubin Askew was governor. In the 1990s the board, though, started excluding various crimes. Gov. Charlie Crist said separating rights restoration from licensing is something he might do but he doesn't yet know enough about the Askew rule to comment.The clemency board relies on the Florida Parole Commission to investigate rights restoration applications but it has a backlog of at least 60,000 cases, Schlakman said. Of the first 112,000 former felons to have their rights restored since the speed up rule was passed, at least 96,000, or about 85 percent, had not registered by the end of July, according to an analysis by the Orlando Sentinel.Another analysis by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel found about 30,000 former felons had successfully registered to vote although their rights haven't been restored."

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Significant Differences Amid Candidates' Drug Policies

The differences among the two presidential candidates are sharp, including that of drug policies. According to The News-Sentinel October 20, 2008 article, ("McCain Would Focus On Law Enforcement, While Obama Would Emphasize Treatment") "Barack Obama used cocaine and marijuana as a teenager and says he could have ended up in prison if he didn't straighten out. John McCain's wife stole from her charity to feed her addiction to prescription painkillers, and he frequently sprinkles 12-Step philosophy language in his speeches and books. Both candidates have a personal connection to drugs, the common denominator in most crime - as well as prison overcrowding in the U.S. and a primary source of political instability in places like Afghanistan, Burma, Colombia and Mexico. But their approaches to dealing with addiction and crime differ sharply."

The article states, "McCain's approach is weighted toward enforcement and incarceration. While opposing imprisoning first-time drug users and supporting prisoner re-entry programs, he supports mandatory minimum sentences for drug dealers, less judicial sentencing discretion, executing drug kingpins and increasing drug interdiction on the Mexican border. The 72-year-old cancer survivor opposes allowing cancer patients to use prescription marijuana for medical treatment or to allow heroin addicts to receive methadone treatment. Obama, a 47-year-old Democratic U.S. senator from Illinois since 2005, supported stiffer sentences for marijuana possession as an Illinois state senator and more money for combating methamphetamine dealing as a U.S. senator. But Obama's platform puts more emphasis on drug courts, drug treatment, needle-exchange programs and alternatives to incarceration for drug addicts partially because of his own drug use."

The article adds, "More than half of all federal prisoners and about 20 percent of state prisoners were imprisoned on drug charges in 2006, according to Bureau of Justice statistics. In 1982, the year John McCain was sworn in as a U.S. representative, the U.S. prison population was about 500,000. It was approximately 2.3 million last year. Prison reform advocates like Marc Mauer, executive director of The Sentencing Project, say increased drug laws and stiffer sentencing, positions advocated by McCain, are responsible for the spike. Mauer said about two-thirds of federal taxpayer money spent on drug prevention has gone for enforcement and imprisonment, with one-third for prevention and treatment."

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Prescription Drug Diversion Is Public Relations Focus Of 2008 Federal Drug Strategy

The 2008 White House drug control strategy was finally released on Saturday, March 1. As expected, no new policy initiatives or innovative approaches are being proposed.

The Los Angeles Times reported on March 2, 2008 ("Bush urges new rules on online sales of addictive prescription drugs") that "President Bush called on Congress on Saturday to pass legislation restricting online sales of powerfully addictive prescription drugs, citing a growing number of overdoses. Bush referred to San Diego teenager Ryan Haight as he unveiled the 2008 national drug control strategy in his weekly radio address. Haight overdosed on painkillers he bought over the Internet, prompting Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to introduce the bill that Bush championed Saturday."

According to the Times, Drug Czar John "Walters praised Mexico and Colombia for their help in targeting traffickers and said they had disrupted the cocaine and methamphetamine supply to the U.S. But he singled out Venezuela for failing to cooperate in drug control efforts. 'We stand ready to work' with Venezuela, Walters said. But he noted that many Venezuelan drug flights appeared to leave from airstrips 'where authorities could take control, but that hasn't been done.' He said that drug traffic appeared to be going increasingly to Africa, Europe and the Caribbean. 'It's a huge danger and a growing danger to Venezuela, to Europe, the Caribbean and the U.S.,' Walters said.

The full strategy documents are available from the ONDCP website. Also, a copy of the spending tables from the larger budget document is available from the CSDP archive.

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Fourteen Million Spent on ONDCP Super Bowl Ads

The Super Bowl will once again feature the waste of millions of dollars in the form of ONDCP's proven ineffective advertisements. On January, 24, 2008 Advertising Age ("White House takes new tack in drug war") reported that 'The spot is part of a 12-week multimedia campaign that for the first time switches the focus from teens to their parents, and delivers a loud warning that it's no longer just illegal drugs that put teens at risk."

According to Advertising Age, "The $14 million push, which will get $28 million in airtime, was produced by Interpublic Group of Cos. DraftFCB for the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. Newspaper ads and a second TV ad will follow, and the drug office is also buying ads on bags used by pharmacists to dispense prescription drugs. Only $60 million was authorized by Congress this year, less than half of the $130 million requested and less than a third of the spending in the campaign's early days. The cuts led the drug office to suspend a second campaign aimed at parents and influencers and to concentrate on teens."

AdAge noted that "National ads are about marijuana and other illegal drugs; an anti-methamphetamine campaign also runs in some markets. In one of the most controversial spots, which ran five months after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack, an ad showed a shopping list that includes an AK-47 rifle. 'Where do terrorists get their money' asked the voice-over. 'If you buy drugs, some of it might come from you."

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Congressional Oversight Committee Finds ONDCP Used To Promote Republican Candidates

The Office of National Drug Control Policy appears to have been used by Karl Rove to promote Republican candidates for political office. The Washington Post reported on July 18, 2007 ("White House Had Drug Officials Appear With GOP Candidates") that "White House officials arranged for top officials at the Office of National Drug Control Policy to help as many as 18 vulnerable Republican congressmen by making appearances and sometimes announcing new federal grants in the lawmakers' districts in the months leading up to the November 2006 elections, a Democratic lawmaker said yesterday. Rep. Henry A. Waxman ( Calif. ), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said documents obtained by his panel suggest that the appearances by the drug control officials were part of a larger White House effort to politicize the work of federal agencies that 'may be more widespread than previously known.' Waxman cited a memo written by former White House political director Sara M. Taylor showing that John P. Walters, director of the drug control office, and his deputies traveled at taxpayer expense to about 20 events with vulnerable GOP members of Congress in the three months leading up to the elections."

According to the Post, "In a letter to Taylor, Waxman also pointed to an e-mail by an official in the drug policy office describing President Bush's top political adviser, Karl Rove, as being pleased that the office, along with the Commerce, Transportation and Agriculture departments, went "above and beyond" the call of duty in arranging appearances by Cabinet members at campaign events. 'This recognition is not something we hear every day and we should feel confident that our hard work is noticed,' said the e-mail, written by Douglas Simon, the drug policy office's White House liaison. 'The director and the deputies deserve the most recognition because they actually had to give up time with their families for the god awful places we sent them.'"

The Post noted that "The drug control office has had a history of being nonpartisan, and a 1994 law bars the agency's officials from engaging in political activities even on their own time. Waxman's investigation is part of a broad effort by Congress to look into White House political involvement in federal agencies. So far, Democratic lawmakers have found evidence that White House officials were involved with the firings of nine U.S. attorneys and that Rove deputies made presentations to officials at the General Services Administration and other agencies about Democrats targeted for defeat by the GOP in 2008. The new disclosure comes after former surgeon general Richard H. Carmona testified last week that the White House routinely blocked him from speaking out on politically sensitive public health matters such as stem cell research and abstinence-only sex education. Carmona also said he was asked to make appearances to help Republican candidates and discouraged from travel that might help a liberal politician."

Following are Documents and Links related to the Committee's investigation:
* Letter to Sara Taylor
* Memo Suggesting ONDCP Travel
* E-mail from Douglas Simon Describing Meeting with Karl Rove
* E-mail from James O'Gara Thanking Douglas Simon
* USDA Briefing Request
* Interior Department Post-Briefing E-mail
* Strategic Overview Powerpoint Presentation (pdf)
* Letter to White House Counsel Fred Fielding
* Letter to Mike Duncan
* Letter to John Walters
* Letter to Secretary Peters
* Letter to Secretary Gutierrez
* Letter to Secretary Johanns

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ONDCP Issues Annual Strategy Report

The Office of National Drug Control Policy released its annual national drug control strategy report on the afternoon of Feb. 9, 2007. The release was announced at an event in Portland, OR. The Associated Press reported on Feb. 10, 2007 ("Drug Czar Says Drug Abuse Has Declined") that "John Walters said that President Bush's anti-drug plan for 2007-08 - which was released in Portland - is to reduce prescription drug abuse by 15 percent over three years. The administration ranks the problem second only to marijuana. The plan singled out the pain reliever OxyContin as one of the prescription drugs most abused. The strategy calls for more states to adopt prescription drug monitoring programs to prevent 'doctor shopping' to get more drugs. Seventeen states, including Oregon, lack such a program, but the Oregon Legislature is considering one. The American Civil Liberties Union has questioned whether such programs violate doctor-patient confidentiality."

The AP reported that "Bush's program calls for a media campaign, nonpunitive random student drug testing and more local anti-drug coalitions. It provides $12.9 billion for prevention, treatment and supply reduction campaigns. Walters said most of it is destined for communities to develop their own drug programs."

The AP noted that "In Washington, D.C, Bill Piper, director of affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance, called the strategy a 'spin on the failure of the war on drugs.' He said in a statement that drugs are as available as ever and that communities continue to be devastated and that related harms of addiction, overdose, and the spread of disease continue to mount."

A copy of the drug control strategy report is available from the ONDCP website. You can find an alternative set of proposals by clicking here.

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Old Wine In Outdated Skins: Drug Czar Releases 2006 National Strategy Report

The Office of National Drug Control Policy released its 2006 National Drug Control Strategy Report on Feb. 8, 2006. As expected, the report contained no changes, no surprises, and many questionable (at best) assumptions and assertions. The Associated Press reported Feb. 8, 2006 ( "White House Unveils Anti-Drug Policy") that "The Bush administration on Wednesday unveiled its 2006 anti-drug program, a campaign that encourages more high schools to screen students and urges teens to live above the influence of drugs and peer pressure."

According to AP, "Since the Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that schools can randomly test high school students in competitive extracurricular activities, his office and the Department of Education have provided grants and other support to at least 350 school districts to screen students. Walters said the number of districts participating has grown by about one per week since last spring."

The AP noted that "Walters dismissed claims by critics who said he chose Denver for the drug-policy announcement because voters last fall legalized possession of small amounts of marijuana for adults, or because a similar proposal could be on the statewide ballot in November. "There's a lot of misinformation, a lot of lying, that goes on in these campaigns," Walters said. He said more youth seek or are ordered to get treatment for marijuana use than for alcohol or for all other illicit drugs combined. Mason Tvert, director of SAFER, which proposed the Denver marijuana initiative and is backing the statewide initiative, said the number of people in treatment programs is up because drug courts and arrests are up. Tvert's group argues that marijuana is safer than alcohol and should be taxed and regulated like alcohol."

The ONDCP drug strategy and budget documents can be downloaded from the ONDCP website.

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Federal Drug Control Strategy, Budget Reports To Be Released Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2006 In Denver, CO

The Office of National Drug Control Policy's 2007 national drug control strategy and budget reports are scheduled to be released Feb. 8, 2006. The Rocky Mountain News reported on Feb. 6, 2006 ( "Owens To Release National Drug Control Plan") that "Gov. Bill Owens and Colorado Attorney General John Suthers will release President George Bush's 2006 National Drug Control Strategy at a Wednesday news conference in Denver. John Walters, the director of the National Drug Control Policy, will join Owens and Suthers at the Synergy Youth Drug Treatment Center at the Fort Logan Mental Health Institute to reveal a new drug control strategy that calls for reducing both the supply and demand for illegal drugs in America. Only the media will be allowed to attend the news conference and to tour the Youth Drug Treatment Center."

An important piece of the budget report was released Feb. 6, 2006 by the White House in its budget proposal. The budget report is fatally flawed and provides a skewed, inaccurate view of federal drug control spending. For more about this, read White House Releases 2007 Drug Control Budget Funding Summary, Fails To Report On Billions In Drug War Spending, below.

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White House Releases 2007 Drug Control Budget Funding Summary, Fails To Report On Billions In Drug War Spending

The US White House released the president's proposed fiscal year 2007 budget on Feb. 6, 2006. The federal Office of National Drug Control Policy's new estimate of federal anti-drug spending was included in the report "Analytical Perspectives, Budget of the United States, Fiscal Year 2007."

The report was immediately criticized by reformers as incomplete and inaccurate. According to Doug McVay, Director of Research for Common Sense for Drug Policy, "ONDCP's drug control spending report is a joke. They omit billions in federal law enforcement spending while overstating the amounts spent on prevention and treatment."

ONDCP produced budget reports in the past in which they tried to come up with a realistic total from all agencies. Under Director John Walters in the GW Bush administration, this changed. In its FY2003 budget document, issued in Feb. 2002, the revisions were explained: "Under the current drug budget, 2003 funding is $19.2 billion across close to 50 accounts. The revised budget for 2003 would be $11.4 billion across only 15 accounts, an increase of $0.4 billion over 2002." (p. 17) To accomplish this, several large items on the supply/enforcement side of the budget equation are eliminated. ONDCP's budget document again: "Further, by far the largest adjustments in the proposed new presentation of the drug control budget are within DOJ. For FY2003, the revised budget removes over $5 billion for 10 bureaus or accounts. About $3 billion of this funding is primarily associated with the incarceration and care of federal prisoners. As was previously discussed, these resources have been excluded from the budget based on the criterion that they are associated with the secondary consequences of the government's primary drug law enforcement and investigative activities, which are the focus of drug policy decision-making." (p. 21)

A copy of the federal drug control budget table from the proposed budget is available from the CSDP site or may be downloaded as part of the White House's "Analytical Perspectives, Budget of the United States, Fiscal Year 2007." The table is at p. 159.

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Don't Let Door Hit You Where The Dog Should Have Bit You: Congressional Drug Warrior Calls For Resignation Of Drug Czar's Top Aide

The US House of Representative's leading drug war zealot Mark Souder (R-IN) called for the resignation of a top aide to ONDCP Director ('Drug Czar') John Walters. The Oregonian reported on Sept. 29, 2005 ( "US Drug Czar, Aide Face Meth Criticism") that "Rep. Mark Souder, R-Ind., spoke after a closed-door briefing in which Bush administration officials described their efforts to halt the spread of methamphetamine abuse. Souder, chairman of the House committee that authorizes the activities of Walters' office, called the presentation 'pathetic' and 'an embarrassment.' He said officials seemed more interested in defending the status quo than developing a meaningful national meth strategy. 'If they continue to defend the way they're going,' he said, 'it's time for some of the top people to resign.' Souder said later in an interview that he specifically wanted the resignation of Dave Murray, a Walters adviser, who led the briefing. But Souder also suggested Walters should go, as well. 'Clearly, if he does not lead, we need a change of the drug czar,' Souder said. He added later, 'If Director Walters and anyone else in that office agrees with what was said today, they should resign.'"

According to the Oregonian, "Murray, who was at the news conference, declined to comment extensively afterward. 'We had an interesting discussion roundtable with them,' Murray said. 'I thought it was pretty productive.' Ken Lisaius, a White House spokesman, said the administration "continues to have faith in Director Walters and his effort to continue to address the drug issues that our nation faces. He will continue to work on the part of the federal government and this administration to address those issues.' Souder and others from districts with large meth problems have repeatedly criticized the administration's effort to deal with the illicit drug, but his latest remarks were his strongest attack yet."

The Oregonian noted that "Members of the bipartisan House Methamphetamine Caucus say the White House has failed to turn its meth plan into a workable strategy that includes new policy initiatives or measurable goals. The lawmakers have attacked the administration for proposing budget cuts to local drug task forces this year and have accused Walters' office of downplaying the threat that meth poses. Wednesday's meeting, attended by about 20 House members, featured officials from the Drug Enforcement Administration, he Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the State Department. Administration officials outlined success stories in the fight against meth, such as a sharp reduction in the number of 'superlabs' operated by Mexican traffickers in the United States, according to people who attended. The administration officials also discussed promising treatment techniques, and they said cooperation had improved with Hong Kong, Mexico and other countries where drug cartels obtain pseudoephedrine. But participants said the officials did not request any additional help from Congress at a time when meth continues to flow into towns across the country. 'We already are aware of what the administration is doing,' said Rick Larsen, D-Wash., a co-chair of the Meth Caucus. 'We're not convinced it is part of a full, comprehensive strategy with the right amount of resources.' Rep. Brian Baird, D-Wash., one of the founders of the caucus, said administration officials seemed out of touch with the problems that House members are hearing back home from sheriffs and the children of meth users. 'The official message was, 'We are doing a great deal about methamphetamine right now,' ' Baird said. 'If they're trying to tell us that they have fully grasped the problem and are responding to the problem proportionally to its impact on our communities, then they're either dissembling, or they're clueless,' he said."

The Oregonian reported that "Souder's lack of confidence in the drug czar's office carries repercussions. At the extreme, Souder said, his committee has the authority to write legislation naming who should fill each position in Walters' office. The more likely course, however, is less drastic. Souder said he has been unwilling so far to micromanage the activities of the office, allowing Walters to set priorities internally. But now, Souder said, he is willing to start directing specific action on meth. 'I don't trust the director's office to make the decisions anymore,' Souder said."

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Syracuse, NY: Auditor's Report Leads To City Council Hearings

In Syracuse, NY, a call for an honest report of the city's drug war budget led to hearings before the city council on alternatives. As syndicated columnist Neal Peirce observed in his column "Can One City Reduce US Drug Law Madness" (St. Paul Pioneer Press, Jan. 3, 2005), "Can a single city do anything to change drug policies that are delivering terror to our inner city streets, diverting police, clogging our courts, breaking up families and making a once-proud America quite literally the incarceration capital of the world? It's tough because federal and state drug laws, passed by tragically misguided 'law-and-order' politicians, are highly intrusive. But Syracuse, N.Y., with a detailed analysis of drug law impact by outgoing City Auditor Minchin Lewis, followed up by recent city council hearings, is courageously asking tough questions and searching for alternatives. Lewis' audit, inspired by Syracuse drug reformer Nicolas Eyle, focused on the Syracuse police department. It discovered that 22 percent of the department's 28,800 arrests in a single year were for drug-related incidents, more than arrests for assaults, disturbances and larcenies combined. Almost 2,000 people were charged with possession or sale of marijuana."

As Peirce observed, "It's true, Lewis concluded, that the city can't change federal or state drug laws. But it can use its authority over police to reduce the emphasis on drug-related arrests and focus on 'harm reduction and prevention efforts rather than absolute prohibition.' City council member Stephanie Miner said she found citizens typically unconcerned about people using drugs in the confines of their homes, but deeply alarmed by the violence visited on their neighborhoods by drug-dealing on the street. 'The main effect of prohibition is to drive the market underground,' Jeffrey Miron, a Boston University economist and drug trade expert, told the Syracuse council hearing in October. Like the alcohol trade in the Roaring Twenties, he said, narcotics rendered illegal by federal decree soar in price and have created an opportunity for traffickers and dealers interested in getting a share of the $65-billion-a-year nationwide market. Eyle, head of Syracuse-based ReconsiDer, will meet again with the city council this month to discuss such steps as a resolution asking the federal and state governments to change drug policies that are merely stimulating black-market activity, crime and violence. Instructions to divert Syracuse's police to more important tasks, perhaps lowering the priority of marijuana arrests in the city, will be considered. 'This is a unique opportunity to change the image of the city, from an undistinguished Rust Belt city to a progressive community actively working to improve itself,' Eyle argues. But it's clear his long-term goal is much broader: lifting drug prohibition altogether."

Click to download a copy of the Syracuse auditor's report. A copy is also available from ReconsiDer as well as a list of the speakers at the Syracuse City Council hearings.

For more about the Syracuse report and hearings, check out:
"Auditor: Anti-Drug Tactics Flawed," The Post-Standard, Dec. 30, 2003
"In Farewell Report, Syracuse Auditor Examines Drug War, Finds It Wanting," Drug War Chronicle, Jan. 2, 2004
"To Lewis, Drug Laws' Costs And Benefits Don't Balance," The Post-Standard, Jan. 7, 2004
"Councilors Look For Better Way To Fight Drugs," The Post-Standard, Oct. 14, 2004
"Syracuse Considers New Strategy On Drugs," AP / The Watertown Daily Times, Oct. 15, 2004
"Syracuse Continues To Battle Drug Use," The Rebel Yell, Oct. 21, 2004

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King County, WA: King County Bar Association Leads Broad Coalition To Create Alternative To Drug War Policies

In Seattle, the King County (WA) Bar Association Drug Policy Project has been spearheading a comprehensive overview of drug policy. As reported by the Associated Press on March 4, 2005 ( "Washington State Groups Offer 'Exit Strategy' For The War On Drugs"), "A group of Washington doctors, religious leaders and lawyers has offered an 'exit strategy' for the war on drugs - a proposal that would aim to dry up the black market for heroin, marijuana and other substances by having the state regulate their distribution. 'How we respond to drug abuse should not be more costly and cause more problems than the drugs themselves,' said John Cary, president of the King County Bar Association, which is leading the effort. 'We've got to find another way.' For now, the group is merely asking the Legislature to form a commission to recommend ways the state could regulate the drug trade. A bill introduced in the state Senate would do just that, though the idea faces serious opposition. But the bar association also released a report Thursday that outlined what such regulation might look like: Registered addicts would be able to obtain limited quantities of heroin at state-licensed clinics or doctor's offices. That model has proved successful in some European countries, proponents said."

The AP story noted that "Supporters include the Church Council of Greater Seattle, the Washington Academy of Family Physicians, the Washington State Pharmacy Association and Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility. They were quick to distance their proposal from 'legalizing' drugs, a term that suggests 'you can go to Wall Drug and get your heroin. That's not the case,' said Roger Goodman, director of the bar association's Drug Policy Project. He prefers the term 'medicalization.' Having the state put criminal gangs out of business and impose strict regulation of the drug trade would make the drugs scarcer, Goodman said. It would also dramatically cut how much the state spends imprisoning nonviolent drug offenders every year, a figure that tops $100 million, according to the report. The report suggested regulating marijuana with a system similar to state liquor stores or by simply allowing people to grow their own - just as the state allows the production of home-brewed beer. The report also offered legal reasoning for getting around federal drug laws, which are rooted in the federal government's power to regulate interstate commerce. The state could withdraw from the war on drugs by ensuring that only Washington state residents register as addicts. Stiff penalties would be provided for anyone caught reselling the drugs, especially to minors. The bar association argues that states have power to oversee the health of their own citizens - an argument similar to the one being put forth to justify California's medical marijuana measure and Oregon's assisted-suicide law before the U.S. Supreme Court. Switzerland has a heroin program allowing about 1,300 addicts to shoot up at approved centers with government-provided heroin, and the annual cost of about $8 million is covered by the state's health insurance system on the grounds that addiction is an illness rather than a crime. Swiss authorities say the result has been a drop in drug-related offenses, and that overdose-related fatalities fell to a 16-year low of 167 in 2002. A clinic providing free heroin to addicts opened last month in Vancouver, British Columbia. The U.S. government would not back a similar program, David Murray of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy in Washington, D.C., told The Associated Press last month. King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng said Thursday he disagreed with the proposal, but he credited the bar association for creating a dialogue that has helped lead to shorter prison terms and increased treatment for drug offenders in the past few years."

Click to download the King County report, "Effective Drug Control: Toward A New Legal Framework." Copies along with other supporting materials are also available on the KCBA Drug Policy Project website.

For more information about the King County report, check out the following articles:
"Making The Case To Legalize Drugs In Washington State," The Stranger, Feb. 24, 2005
"Give State Full Regulatory Control Of Illegal Drugs, County Bar Urges," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, March 4, 2005
"Drug War Strategy Assailed At Forum," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, March 10, 2005

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'Ignore The Facts, Full Steam Ahead': Drug Czar Releases 2005 National Drug Control Strategy

The US Office of National Drug Control Policy issued its 2005 national drug control strategy on Feb. 23, 2005. Once again, reality seems to have little impact on policy. According to ONDCP in the document's introduction, "The enormous social consequences of drug use would be far worse were the price and availability of illegal drugs not so successfully circumscribed by the activities of interdiction and law enforcement. The drug trade is a market phenomenon. As we interrupt the supply of drugs we make them more scarce and more expensive, diminishing drug use and leading some to seek treatment." They also assert that "Chapter III profiles source country programs such as the coca eradication effort in Colombia, which have led to major reductions in the production of cocaine, reducing the amount of the drug available worldwide in a way that is not even close to being made up by neighboring countries."

Yet, these statements are far from true. As the Financial Times reported on Dec. 7, 2004 ( "Drug War Fails To Halt Colombia Cocaine Trail"), "A structural change on the supply side of the market is one reason why retail prices for cocaine in the US and Europe have remained stable or fallen in real terms, according to research carried out by the United Nations. 'As the business is so profitable, one could expect producers to adjust their margins,' says Andres Lopez, a professor at the Universidad Nacional in Bogota who has studied apparent trends in the drugs trade. Smuggling routes are constantly shifting as traffickers find new ways of outwitting officials and in spite of tougher security measures at ports and airports as part of the war on terrorism. Although Colombian authorities seized more cocaine--this year up 50 per cent to 154 tonnes--experts believe only about 10 per cent of illegal shipments are captured. More seizures are seen as a poor indicator of fluctuations in output and not necessarily a sign of an effective curb on supply."

According to FT, "US counter-narcotics policy has in the past 20 years pumped about $45bn overseas, almost exclusively to combat supply. But experts say it has resoundingly failed to cut the availability of drugs or helped reduce consumption on western streets. As John Walsh, senior associate for drug policy at the Washington Office on Latin America research group, puts it: 'To date, there is no evidence that the commitment to tough-sounding policies has reduced drug availability, made drugs more expensive or contributed to reducing drug consumption.""

A report by the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), "Drugs, Democracy and Human Rights," underscores this reality. As reported in the WOLA Drug War Monitor for Dec. 2004 ( "Are We There Yet?"), "ONDCPís 2004 National Drug Control Strategy asserts that the 'main reason supply reduction matters to drug policy is that it makes drugs more expensive, less potent, and less available.' Put more accurately, supply reduction efforts aim to make drugs more expensive, less potent and less available; whether such efforts succeed or not in this purpose is an empirical question that ONDCP's artful phrasing tries to evade. Here the record is dismally clear: Since the early 1980s, U.S. cocaine and heroin prices have actually fallen dramatically, while purity levels have risen and then remained fairly stable. The most recent and comprehensive analysis shows U.S. wholesale and retail prices for cocaine and heroin to be at or near their historic lows, with purity at or near historic highs."

Graphs charting the price and purity of both cocaine and heroin are available from the WOLA website.

The ONDCP assertion that cocaine production is being dramatically reduced and that efforts in Colombia are not resulting in a spread of production to other countries are also questionable to say the least. As the Financial Times reported on Feb. 14, 2005 ( "US Help For Anti-Drug Efforts Shifts Funding From Peru And Bolivia"), "Authorities in Lima worry that the focus on Colombia ignores the increasing scale of the problem in Peru. Nils Ericsson, head of the state anti-drugs agency, said on Friday that cocaine production in Peru had increased by 13 per cent last year to 160 tons, with a US street value of about $2bn. Mr Ericsson predicted that at current growth rates, Peru's cocaine trade will double within four years unless the US and Europe boost anti-drug aid. 'This growth represents a threat to democratic institutions and the risk of a resurgence in terrorist movements,' Mr Ericsson said. According to the Peruvian interior ministry police have already seized three tons of cocaine this year, about half the amount intercepted on average in a year. While Washington sees Peru as lacking resolve in coca eradication, Bolivia is viewed as even less dependable. A June 2004 report on Bolivia by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime noted 'worrying signs that coca cultivation is. . .on the increase' in Yungas region east of La Paz."

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ONDCP Releases 2004 National Strategy -- Feds To Clamp Down On Pain Prescriptions, Increase Support For Student Drug Testing

The Office of National Drug Control Policy released its 2004 national drug control strategy and budget reports on March 1, 2004. The Guardian reported ( "Anti-Drug Strategy To Include Pain Killers") that "President Bush's national anti-drug strategy will for the first time target the use of pain relievers, sedatives and stimulants for nonmedical purposes, a problem that has exploded in the last decade. A key part of the strategy being released Monday involves government efforts to help states develop monitoring systems to track a patient's use of prescription medicine. The monitoring programs flag cases that indicate a pattern of abuse, such as 'doctor shopping,' where a patient gets prescriptions for drugs from multiple physicians. Prescription medicine now ranks second, behind marijuana, among drugs most abused by adults and young people, said the report by the White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy. It cited a recent study by the Health and Human Services Department. Twenty states have prescription monitoring programs, the report said. John Walters, director of the drug policy office, said he expects to expand the program to 11 more states by next year. About $10 million in federal funds will bankroll the expansion."

The Guardian also notes that "Bush outlined other facets of his anti-drug strategy during his State of the Union address in January. They include additional financing for drug-prevention efforts and a sharp increase in funds for schools that want to use drug testing to expand early intervention programs. His proposal to boost funding from $2 million to $23 million for student drug testing has come under fire from some parents, school administrators and civil liberties groups concerned about privacy violations and the effectiveness of the testing."

For more information about prescription drugs, particularly Oxycontin, and the US drug war, check out this CSDP news page on Oxycontin.

To download a copy of the 2004 federal drug control strategy and budget, either go to the ONDCP website or download it directly as a 1.1 meg PDF by clicking here.

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NIDA Issues Evaluation Through 2003 Of Media Campaign -- No Changes, Ad Campaign Still A Failure

The National Institute on Drug Abuse has released what may be its final evaluation of ONDCP's Anti-Drug Media Campaign. The evaluations have been conducted by Westat and the Annenberg School of Communications under a grant from NIDA. According to Advertising Age on Jan. 19, 2004 ( "Study Faults White House Anti-Drug Ads"), "A study commissioned by the National Institute on Drug Abuse ( NIDA ) has concluded that the advertising program of the White House anti-drug office has had little impact on its primary target: America's teenagers. Conducted jointly by the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and Westat, a 30-year-old research firm in Rockville, Md., the analysis concluded that "there is little evidence of direct favorable [advertising] campaign effects on youth.""

The report noted "The drug office spends $150 million a year on advertising, and those expenditures have been the subject of ongoing controversy in Congress. The NIDA report covers the advertising campaign's start in September 1999 through June 2003. Entitled "Evaluation of the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign: 2003 Report of Findings," the report issued by NIDA notes that the advertising campaigns have had a "favorable effect" on parents but not on the children, whose illicit drug use is the focus of the ads."

Copies of the evaluation, as well as previous evaluations, can be downloaded from NIDA's website at www.nida.nih.gov/despr/westat/.

The following are some pertinent quotes from the report. For more information on the ONDCP ad campaign and on other prevention efforts, see Drug War Facts: Adolescents / Education & Prevention of Substance Abuse.

"The NSPY [National Survey of Parents and Youth] did not find significant reductions in marijuana us either leading up to or after the Marijuana campaign for youth 12 to 18 years old between 2002 and 2003. Indeed there was evidence for an increase in past month and past year use among the target audience of 14- to 16-year-olds, although it appears that the increase was already in place in the last half of 2002, before the launch of the Marijuana Initiative. It will be worthwhile to track whether the nonsignificant decline from the second half of 2002 through the first half of 2003 is the beginning of a true trend. There was a significant decrease in lifetime marijuana use among youth 16 to 18 years of age from 2002 to 2003; however, since this significant decrease was not replicated in either the directly relevant past year or past month time periods, it is difficult to ascribe the change to the campaign."
Source: Hornik, Robert, David Maklan, Diane Cadell, Carlin Henry Barmada, Lela Jacobsohn, Vani R. Henderson, Anca Romantan, Jeffrey Niederdeppe, Robert Orwin, Sanjeev Sridharan, Adam Chu, Carol Morin, Kristie Taylor, Diane Steele, "Evaluation of the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign: 2003 Report of Findings," Delivered to National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services By Westat & the Annenberg School for Communication, Contract No. N01DA-8-5063, December 22, 2003, p. 4-15.
"In sum, the analysis of the NSPY data does not support a claim that use among the target audience of 14- to 16-year-olds has declined with the initiation of the Marijuana Initiative. Contrarily, it appears to have increased in the past year compared to prior measurement, although the increase appears to have occurred before the start of the Marijuana Initiative and was only maintained during the first half of 2003. The MTF [Monitoring the Future survey] data does show declines, particularly for 8th and 10th graders. However, these declines cannot be confidently attributed to the operation of the Campaign."
Ibid., p. 4-15.
"In the previous reports, based on both favorable trends over time and cross-sectional associations, there was evidence supportive of Campaign effects on talking with children; on beliefs and attitudes regarding monitoring of children; and, in the case of the cross-sectional associations, on doing fun activities with them. These results still hold when Wave 7 parent reports are added, although youth reports of monitoring and talking behaviors are not consistent with parent reports and thus call into question the favorable changes in behavior that may be associated with the Campaign."
Ibid., p. 6-1.

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ONDCP Issues '04 Strategy, Budget; As Predicted A Year Ago, Budget Summary Attempts To Hide Billions In Drug War Spending

ONDCP has released its FY2004 National Drug Control Strategy document, including its estimate of the annual drug war budget. As expected, ONDCP has revised its reporting to hide billions in spending on the law enforcement side, while at the same time overstating the amounts spent on demand reduction efforts like treatment, education and prevention. An analysis by CSDP of the revised federal drug war budget report is available by clicking here. ONDCP's newly-issued National Strategy, which includes the pro forma drug war budget, is available from ONDCP's website by clicking here. The portion of the strategy containing ONDCP's partial drug war budget report is available as a PDF by clicking here.

ONDCP stated in its FY2003 budget document, issued in Feb. 2002, "Under the current drug budget, 2003 funding is $19.2 billion across close to 50 accounts. The revised budget for 2003 would be $11.4 billion across only 15 accounts, an increase of $0.4 billion over 2002." (p. 17) To accomplish this, several large items on the supply/enforcement side of the budget equation are eliminated. ONDCP's budget document again: "Further, by far the largest adjustments in the proposed new presentation of the drug control budget are within DOJ. For FY2003, the revised budget removes over $5 billion for 10 bureaus or accounts. About $3 billion of this funding is primarily associated with the incarceration and care of federal prisoners. As was previously discussed, these resources have been excluded from the budget based on the criterion that they are associated with the secondary consequences of the government's primary drug law enforcement and investigative activities, which are the focus of drug policy decision-making." (p. 21)

At the same time, some agencies are reporting larger sums than are actually spent. According to ONDCP, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's full Substance Abuse Block Grant will be reported under the drug control budget, even though "Currently, about 71 percent of the $1.8 billion Block Grant is scored as drug-related, based on a drug budget methodology that has not been updated or verified in recent years." (p. 20) According to the budget document, "Rather than continuing to rely on the current drug budget methodology, the proposed budget would display 100 percent of the Substance Abuse Block Grant and fully disclose that this figure includes adult alcohol treatment funding." (p. 20)

To justify its reporting revision, ONDCP cited a Rand Corp. study ( "Improving Anti-Drug Budgeting," RAND Corp., 2000, available on the web from www.rand.org/publications/MR/MR1262/ ). However, Rand's conclusions are ignored in the revisions. For example, the Rand study noted that "In three agencies, Education, Veterans, and SAMHSA, the methodologies produce inflated antidrug budgets, the cumulative effect of which is to inflate the overall FY 1998 antidrug budget of $16 billion by over $1 billion. The largest discrepancy emerges in the Department of Veterans Affairs. Including the other medical care costs for drug abuse patients inflates its budget by $710 million, or 66 percent. As these three agencies focus on reducing the demand for drugs, the effect is that the ONDCP Director's antidrug budget in FY 1998 for these prevention and treatment programs was about 20 percent less than reported to the American public." (p. xiv) Yet, in the new reporting formula, Education and VA spending is uncorrected and reported at the same levels or slightly higher than under the current methodology, while SAMHSA's spending under the new methodology appears significantly higher -- $2.37 billion for FY2003, as opposed to the $1.82 billion currently reported.

Also, though BOP spending will no longer be reported under the revised methodology, Rand's report states that "The antidrug budgets for the Coast Guard and the Bureau of Prisons reflect quite accurately the resources being expended." (p. xiv)

A new report from the Justice Department's Inspector General says that Justice Department in its drugwar budget report to ONDCP overstated its spending on drug demand reduction (as opposed to supply reduction, or enforcement/interdiction) activities by more than $200 million in 2001. The report is at http://www.usdoj.gov/oig/audit/0312/fullreport.pdf. An HTML version of the report was not available at the time of this writing, Feb. 12, 2003. It and other reports can be viewed at http://www.usdoj.gov/oig/igauplus.htm.

According to the IG, "As reported in the ONDCP FYs 2002 and 2003 budget summaries, the total federal drug demand reduction budget for FY 2001 was $5.9 billion, of which the DOJ reported drug demand reduction funding of $325 million. We concluded that the DOJ programs reported to the ONDCP do not accurately reflect the DOJ drug demand reduction activities." (p. 2) The IG notes further: "Based on our analysis we determined that the programs reported to the ONDCP do not, in our judgment, accurately reflect the DOJís drug demand reduction efforts. We identified 10 programs with total reported obligations of $223 million that were not directly related to drug demand reduction. As a result, the DOJ obligations directly related to drug demand reduction for the remaining 10 DOJ programs were actually $163 million, not the $336 million that was reported in FY 2001." (p. 3)

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Federal Evaluation: ONDCP Ad Campaign A Failure, Yet Czar Begs Congress To Fully Fund Program

The National Institute on Drug Abuse released the Fourth Semi-Annual Evaluation of the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign in mid-June 2002. The report presents the results of an ongoing analysis of the ONDCP-coordinated anti-drug advertising campaign. Copies of the evaluation, and of the previous reports, can be downloaded from http://www.nida.nih.gov/despr/westat/index.html . Researchers were able to find no positive results for youth, and in fact found some negative results. According to the Executive Summary , "There is little evidence of direct favorable Campaign effects on youth. There is no statistically significant decline in marijuana use or improvements in beliefs and attitudes about marijuana use between 2000 and 2001, and no tendency for those reporting more exposure to Campaign messages to hold more desirable beliefs. For some outcomes, and for some subgroups of respondents, analysis raises the possibility that those with more exposure to the specific Campaign ads at the start of Phase III of the Campaign had less favorable outcomes over the following 18 months. This was true for the youth respondents who were nonusers and aged 10 to 12 at the start of this phase, with regard to their intentions to use marijuana in the future and for all youth 12 to 18 for their perceived social norms about marijuana use. Girls with the highest exposure to Campaign ads at the start were more likely than less exposed girls to initiate marijuana use. This effect was not seen for boys. This unfavorable association with initiation was also significant for the youngest respondents and for the low risk respondents. Further analysis is required before any firm conclusion can be reached to support these unlikely outcomes."

In addition, the media campaign's National Survey of Parents and Youth (NSPY) found that some young people exposed to the campaign may have increased their marijuana use. According to the summary, "NSPY also examined rates of change in three other measures of marijuana use - ever use, regular use (almost every month), and use in the previous 30 days. For all ages and for all of those measures, use was unchanging between 2000 and 2001, with two exceptions. Reports of regular use and last 30 days use, while still rare, were significantly increasing among youth who were 14- to 15-years-old. Reports of past month use increased from 3.6% to 7.2%, and regular use (defined as use every month or almost every month) increased from 2.2% to 5.4%."

Some positive results regarding parental behaviors were noted in the survey, though they were of questionable significant. "Overall, there are trends and cross-sectional associations consistent with Campaign effects on parent outcomes, including talking behavior and cognitions, and monitoring cognitions. These associations are most consistent for fathers. The longitudinal data do not as yet provide the hoped for additional evidence to rule out reverse causation as an explanation for the observed cross-sectional associations. Also, the evidence does not as yet support an effect of parent exposure on youth behavior." Ultimately, "There was no cross-sectional associational evidence for any group that parent exposure was associated with lower marijuana consumption among youth."

Other data in the evaluation raises questions about the parental responses. According to the summary:
"A slightly increasing proportion of parents reported conversations about drugs with their children across years; in 2000 around 80 percent and in 2001 around 83 percent of parents claimed to have had two or more conversations with their children about drugs in the previous 6 months. There were no important differences in reported conversation with children according to the age of the child.
"In contrast, youth reported a different pattern of conversation. The percentage of youth reporting such conversations with their parents was lower -- only about 52 percent reported two or more such conversations in the past 6 months. The percentage also declined between 2000 and 2001, a decline that was significant for the entire group of 12- to 18-year-olds and for the 12- to 13-year- olds. In addition, fewer of the younger children (aged 12 to 13) reported such conversations with friends in 2001 than in 2000."

A full copy of the report can be downloaded as a PDF by clicking here, or it can be downloaded in chunks from this webpage. Also, a copy of the most recent National Survey of Parents and Youth can be downloaded as a PDF by clicking here.

Background: As noted in the evaluation, "Under the Treasury-Postal Appropriations Act of 1998, Congress approved funding (P.L. 105-61) for 'a national media campaign to reduce and prevent drug use among young Americans.' Pursuant to this act, the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) launched the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign (the Media Campaign). The Media Campaign has progressed through three phases of increasing complexity and intensity. Phases I and II are not discussed in this report. ONDCP has available other reports that evaluate those phases. This report focuses on Phase III, which began in September 1999 and is planned to run at least through spring 2003. An evaluation of Phase III is being conducted under contract to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) by Westat and its subcontractor, the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. Funding of the evaluation is provided by ONDCP from the appropriation for the Media Campaign itself."

The media campaign is run by ONDCP along with its partners:
"ONDCP performs overall management of the Media Campaign in collaboration with the following groups:
"The Partnership for a Drug-Free America (PDFA), which provides the creative advertising for the Media Campaign through its existing relationship with leading American advertising companies;
"A Behavioral Change Expert Panel (BCEP) of outside scientists who help to inform the content of the advertisements to reflect the latest research on behavior modification, prevention, and target audiences;
"Ogilvy, a national advertising agency, which has responsibility for media buying (as well as for carrying out some supportive research and assuring a coherent advertising strategy);
"Fleishman-Hillard, a public relations firm, which coordinates the nonadvertising components of the Media Campaign; and
"The Ad Council, a coordinator of national public interest advertising campaigns, which supervises distribution of donated advertising time to other public service agencies under the 'pro bono match' program."

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Drug War Budget Continues Climb, Reaches $19.2 Billion For FY2003; Agency Seeks To Hide Some Enforcement Spending

The FY2003 national drug control strategy and drug control budget were released by ONDCP and the White House on February 12, 2002. The Administration is casting its proposal as a shift in emphasis from incarceration to treatment. (An analysis by CSDP of the announced federal budget reporting revision is available by clicking here.)

The Christian Science Monitor reported on February 14, 2002 ( "In Drug Treatment Vs. Prison, A Political Shift In Tone"), "Now, Bush is making it clear it's time to rethink the role of treatment. 'The best way to affect supply is to reduce demand for drugs,' he said Tuesday. 'We can work as hard as we possibly want on interdiction, but so long as there is the demand for drugs in this country, some crook is going to figure out how to get them here.' Bush has backed up those words with dollars. Drug treatment was one of the few domestic items, other than defense, given an increase in his proposed budget. It's about a 6 percent hike, bringing the total drug treatment budget to $3.8 billion. That could help almost 550,000 people - about 50,000 more than last year." Yet, as the Monitor notes, "In 2000, the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse found that 3.9 million people who needed treatment did not get it. In treatment circles, the accepted estimate is that only 1 in 10 people get the help they need. 'I see too many people who suffer because they can't get it, and it goes far beyond the individual. The families suffer as well,' says Terry Horton, medical director of Phoenix House, one of the country's largest drug-treatment organizations."

Some important items from the new budget have so far gone relatively unnoticed. The biggest may be the proposed "restructuring" of federal drug control budget reporting. As ONDCP states in its FY2003 budget document, "Under the current drug budget, 2003 funding is $19.2 billion across close to 50 accounts. The revised budget for 2003 would be $11.4 billion across only 15 accounts, an increase of $0.4 billion over 2002." (p. 17) To accomplish this, several large items on the supply/enforcement side of the budget equation would be eliminated. ONDCP's budget document again: "Further, by far the largest adjustments in the proposed new presentation of the drug control budget are within DOJ. For FY2003, the revised budget removes over $5 billion for 10 bureaus or accounts. About $3 billion of this funding is primarily associated with the incarceration and care of federal prisoners. As was previously discussed, these resources have been excluded from the budget based on the criterion that they are associated with the secondary consequences of the government's primary drug law enforcement and investigative activities, which are the focus of drug policy decision-making." (p. 21)

At the same time, some agencies will in the future report larger sums than are actually budgeted. According to ONDCP, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's full Substance Abuse Block Grant will be reported under the drug control budget, even though "Currently, about 71 percent of the $1.8 billion Block Grant is scored as drug-related, based on a drug budget methodology that has not been updated or verified in recent years." (p. 20) According to the budget document, "Rather than continuing to rely on the current drug budget methodology, the proposed budget would display 100 percent of the Substance Abuse Block Grant and fully disclose that this figure includes adult alcohol treatment funding." (p. 20)

Copies of the national drug control portion of the President's FY2003 budget document can be accessed by clicking here or by going through the White House or OMB websites. Copies of the "Restructing the National Drug Control Budget" section of ONDCP's FY2003 budget document can be accessed by clicking here, or by downloading the entire drug control budget document from the ONDCP website.

In its report, ONDCP cites a Rand Corp. study to justify its budget reporting revisions ( "Improving Anti-Drug Budgeting," RAND Corp., 2000, available on the web from www.rand.org/publications/MR/MR1262/ ). However, Rand's conclusions are ignored in the planned revisions. For example, the Rand study noted that "In three agencies, Education, Veterans, and SAMHSA, the methodologies produce inflated antidrug budgets, the cumulative effect of which is to inflate the overall FY 1998 antidrug budget of $16 billion by over $1 billion. The largest discrepancy emerges in the Department of Veterans Affairs. Including the other medical care costs for drug abuse patients inflates its budget by $710 million, or 66 percent. As these three agencies focus on reducing the demand for drugs, the effect is that the ONDCP Director's antidrug budget in FY 1998 for these prevention and treatment programs was about 20 percent less than reported to the American public." (p. xiv) Yet, according to the pro forma proposed national drug control budget contained in ONDCP's budget document, Education and VA spending is uncorrected and reported at the same levels or slightly higher than under the current methodology, while SAMHSA's spending under the new methodology would appear significantly higher -- $2.37 billion for FY2003, as opposed to the $1.82 billion currently reported. Also, though BOP spending will no longer be reported under the revised methodology, Rand's report states that "The antidrug budgets for the Coast Guard and the Bureau of Prisons reflect quite accurately the resources being expended." (p. xiv)

Another item that has otherwise been unmentioned is that the expectations for anti-drug efforts has been cut in half. As reported by the Washington Times on February 13, 2002 ( "Bush Ties Drug Use To Terrorist Support"), "The president's budget, which he submitted to Congress earlier this month, asks for $19.2 billion to fight illegal drugs, a 2 percent increase over current spending. He said that will help cut drug use by 10 percent within two years, a first step toward his goal of a 25 percent reduction within five years." Yet, the drug control strategy released in 2001 said "Through a balanced array of demand-reduction and supply-reduction actions, we strive to reduce drug use and availability by half and the consequences of drug abuse by at least 25 percent by 2007." ( to access that report click here) This revised goal of cutting drug use by one fourth rather than one half by the year 2007 is less ambitious, though also possibly less unrealistic.

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