“A Real Loss,” Expert Says Of Doomed ADAM Testing


The U.S. Justice Department’s closure of the Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring Program (ADAM) is a “a real loss,” Mark A. R. Kleiman, drug expert at the University of California, Los Angeles, told the New York Times. Kleiman, editor of The Drug Policy Analysis Bulletin, charged that “closing down ADAM indicates a complete lack of seriousness about getting a handle on the drug abuse problem in this country.”

The demise of ADAM, which tests arrestees in 35 cities for substance abuse, was first reported last week by Crime & Justice News. The Times says that law enforcement officials and criminal justice experts criticized ending the program, saying it was a useful tool in the battle against crime and drugs and was credited for tracking the rise and fall of the crack epidemic and detecting the beginning of the methamphetamine epidemic on the West Coast.

Sarah V. Hart, head of the Justice Department’s research arm, the National Institute of Justice, said she was stopping the program because of a lack of money. The budget that Congress passed last week gives NIJ $6 million a year in discretionary money for social science research, she said, down from $20 million last year. ADAM costs $8.4 million a year. “We can’t put every dime into one methodology for drug testing,” Hart said. “We have obligations to do research in many other areas of the criminal justice system,” including the court system, helping prosecutors, and reducing domestic violence. Hart has asked the Bureau of Justice Statistics, another Justice Department agency, to devise a smaller, less-expensive version.

Kleiman noted that a federally-funded “household” survey of drug use detects 30 tons of cocaine use a year, when the real consumption is close to 300 tons. “The household survey is missing about 90 percent of the cocaine that is used,” he said said. President Bush, in his State of the Union address last week, called for an additional $23 million to test students for drugs. “With that $23 million, we could run ADAM for three years,” Kleiman said.

Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/01/28/national/28DRUG.html

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