U.S.: Obama Continues To Fund Punishment Over Treatment In Drug Budget
By Steve Elliott
Despite the rhetoric from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) about a "21st Century Drug Policy" and their use of the hashtag #DrugPolicyReform on Twitter, President Barack Obama's budget continues to emphasize punishment and interdiction (supply reduction) programs over treatment and prevention (demand reduction) programs, to the tune of 58 percent to 42 percent.
It's a classic case of throwing good money after bad, of doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Forty-two years after President Richard Nixon declared a "War On Drugs," the chief casualties are civil liberties and individual privacy rights, with drugs being more easily available than when the "War" (which is really on people, not on drugs) was declared.
The portion of federal drug control spending going to domestic law enforcement in the fiscal year 2014 budget increases slightly from 2012's 38.5 percent ($9.4 billion) and 2013's 38.1 percent ($9.3 billion) to 2014's 37.7 percent ($9.5 billion), an overall increase of 1.3 percent in two years.
Interdiction now accounts for 14.6 percent ($3.7 billion), compared to 2013's 15.8 percent ($3.9 billion) and 2012's 16.5 percent ($4 billion), an overall decrease of 8.2 percent in two years.
In two years, the portion of the budget going to demand reduction has increased 16.1 percent, while the portion going to supply reduction has decreased 3.8 percent, according to the ONDCP.
"The administration deserves some credit for moving this ratio slightly in the right direction over the years, but a drug control budget that increasing funding for the DEA and the Bureau of Prisons is simply not the kind of strategy we need in the 21st Century," Tom Angell of Marijuana Majority told Hemp News Wednesday afternoon.
"At a time when a majority of Americans support legalizing marijuana, and states are moving to end prohibition, this president should be spending less of our money paying narcs to send people to prison, not more," Angell told us. "If, as administration officials say, 'We can't arrest our way out of the drug problem,' then why are they continuing to devote so many resources to arresting people for drug problems?"
"Another area where the administration deserves some credit is for requesting a cut to the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program, significant funds from which incentivize local law enforcement officials to arrest ever-more people for drugs so they can make a case that their jurisdictions are indeed 'high intensity' drug areas and thus get bigger grants from the federal government in the future," Angell pointed out.
"Still, $193 million for the program is $193 million more than should be used to arrest people for drugs in the 21st Century," Angell said.