Outgoing Drug Czar Issues Report Claiming; Critics Say Drug War Has Failed, New Standards are Needed
Reformers Call for New Drug Strategies Focused on Common Sense, Science, Public Health and Human Rights
Today President Clinton's director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy presented his final report on the results of the Drug War. Drug Czar General Barry McCaffrey claims "substantial progress" in the fight against illegal drugs during his tenure. Critics challenge his criteria for success.
"Barry McCaffrey will be remembered as yet another failed drug czar -- one whose rhetorical calls for more treatment and less incarceration were not matched by any substantive change in policy or budgetary priorities," said Ethan Nadelmann, director of the Lindesmith Center - Drug Policy Foundation, a leading drug policy institute in New York. "But, to be fair," he added, "the war on drugs persists because most politicians dare not admit that the strategy itself is fundamentally flawed."
Nadelmann points to the following indicators of the public health costs of drug use and our current prohibitionist policy:
- Though much of the drug czar's rhetoric focuses on the importance of treatment, only 31% of the federal drug budget is spent on treatment and prevention compared to the 69% dedicated to law enforcement and interdiction. According to the White House, only 40 percent of addicts who need treatment receive it.
"The current approach, with its drug free rhetoric and over-reliance on punitive, criminal justice policies costs billions more each year yet delivers less and less. As President-elect Bush considers Barry McCaffrey's successor, he should recognize that U.S. drug policy needs a new bottom line -- one that focuses not on reducing the total number of people who use drugs but rather on reducing the death, disease, crime and suffering associated with both drug use and drug prohibition," Nadelmann said.
According to the Lindesmith Center - Drug Policy Foundation, if the government were serious about the health and welfare of its citizens, it would immediately take the following steps:
- Make appropriate treatment available to every addict who seeks it, including methadone maintenance - which has been proven to be the most effective treatment for heroin dependence.