Critics: Obama Doesn’t Put Enough Money Behind His Drug Policy


In the two weeks since the Obama White House issued its first antidrug strategy, a growing chorus of experts has begun to complain that the president is not putting enough money behind their efforts to reconfigure the nation’s drug-fighting approach, says the Washington Post. “We have a great strategy and not a lot of means to implement it,” said John Carnevale, a drug-policy consultant who used to work for the government and wrote earlier versions of the national drug-control strategy for three previous presidents in the 1980s and ’90s. “That’s our worry.”

The White House has asked Congress to increase spending next year by 3.5 percent on the broad spectrum of drug-control activities — from curbing drugged driving and expanding drug courts to subsidizing opium and coca farmers in other countries to switch to legal crops. That increase is less than the 4.1 percent increase that President George W. Bush sought to combat drug abuse in 2002, the year his administration developed its first national drug-control strategy. Even drug-policy experts who like the new plan’s tone say they are disappointed that about two-thirds — about the same proportion as under Bush — of the $15.5 billion proposed for drug control in 2011 would be used to try to cut the supply of illegal drugs rather than to lessen people’s desire for them. “The rhetoric is different but the money is essentially the same,” said Joseph A. Califano Jr. of the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University.

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