President Barack Obama, in his first drug control strategy issued today, urges putting more resources into drug prevention and treatment. The Associated Press says the strategy boosts community-based anti-drug programs, encourages health care providers to screen for drug problems before addiction sets in, and expands treatment beyond specialty centers to mainstream health care facilities. (Newsweek published an earlier story based on a leaked copy of the strategy.)
White House drug policy adviser Gil Kerlikowske criticized past drug strategies for measuring success by counting the number of children and teens who have not tried marijuana. At the same time, he said, the number of deaths from illegal and prescription drug overdoses was rising. “Us facing that issue and dealing with it head on is important,” Kerlikowske said. Some drug reform advocates like the direction Obama is heading, but question whether the focus on treatment and prevention is more rhetoric than reality; the drug control budget proposal this year continues to spend about twice as much money on enforcement as on programs to reduce demand. “The improved rhetoric is not matched by any fundamental shift in the budget or the broader thrust of the drug policy,” said Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance.