FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 11, 2010
CONTACT: Tom Angell - (202) 557-4979 or media//at//leap//dot//cc
New Obama Drug Strategy Just Like Old "Drug War" Approach
Despite Rhetoric, Administration Funds Enforcement Over Treatment
WASHINGTON, DC -- The Obama administration released its National Drug Control Strategy today, claiming that it represents a balanced new approach to drug policy that focuses on treatment over enforcement. However, a group of police officers who support legalization is pointing out that despite the administration's words, the drug budget dedicates nearly twice as much funding to policing and enforcement as it does to public health and prevention, virtually the same ratio as the previous budget under President Bush.
"The drug czar is saying all the right things about ending the 'war on drugs' and enacting a long-overdue balanced strategy focused on a public health approach," said Neill Franklin, a former Baltimore cop and incoming executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). "Unfortunately the reality of the budget numbers doesn't match up to the rhetoric. Two-thirds of the budget is dedicated to the same old 'war on drugs' approach and only a third goes to public health strategies. My experience policing the beat tells me that it's certainly time for a new approach, but unfortunately this administration is failing to provide the necessary leadership to actually make it happen instead of just talking about it."
The strategy devotes 64 percent of the budget to traditional supply reduction strategies like enforcement and interdiction while reserving only 36 percent for demand reduction approaches like treatment and prevention. And, due to accounting changes made under the Bush administration and maintained by Obama, the budget ratio doesn't even take into account some costs of the "war on drugs" such as incarceration.
Drug policy reform advocates are pleased, however, with the strategy's support for syringe exchange programs and its criticism of laws that bar people with drug convictions from receiving public benefits like student aid.
"It's great to see the administration starting to talk like they want to actually change failed drug policies," said Franklin. "But we can't let them get away with claiming that they've ended the 'war on drugs' while we continue to arrest 800,000 people a year on marijuana charges alone."
The National Drug Control Strategy can be found online at http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov/strategy/
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) is an international organization representing police, prosecutors, judges, FBI/DEA agents and others who want to legalize and regulate drugs after fighting on the front lines of the "war on drugs" and learning firsthand that prohibition only serves to worsen addiction and violence. More info at http://www.CopsSayLegalizeDrugs.com
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