DrugSense Weekly, January 12, 2001 #182

DrugSense Weekly, January 12, 2001 #182
Posted by FoM on January 12, 2001 at 13:07:39 PT
McCaffrey's Parting Shots Belie the Facts 
Source: DrugSense
It's supremely ironic that General Barry McCaffrey, the most visible and longest serving drug czar-- the one who promoted more drug arrests than any other and is the chief apologist for the first acknowledged overseas military adventure to support the drug war-- left office during a week in which the policy he headed is facing harsh criticism at home and a daunting overseas test. Beyond that; a film which seems certain to become both box-office hit and nominee for several Academy Awards just opened to critical acclaim. 
While that criticism is variable with respect to the film's portrayal of many drug war details, it's nearly unanimous in acknowledging our policy to be an expensive failure.Against this backdrop, McCaffrey's departing claim that the drug war is really successful, but just needing more money and commitment, is nothing short of ludicrous. Since he was not a powerful "czar" with actual police powers, but really functioned as designated government lobbyist for a global criminal industry, his tenure can be seen as a monumental failure-- with more on the way. Our drug policy rests on a simplistic premise: "certain drugs are so evil, they must be outlawed." The counter is: "the criminal drug markets created by policy produce far more social damage than the drugs themselves." Whatever its limitations, that seems to be the message most readily derived from "Traffic." Given our recently acknowledged criminal justice excesses, racial profiling, police scandals, and "exploding" markets for both club drugs and methamphetamine, that counter argument will resonate as never before. The nomination of a fundamentalist drug hawk to be Attorney General should be seen as just another opportunity to make the same case even more effectively. Likewise, the possible denial of medical necessity by a less than pristine Supreme Court represents an opportunity to further discredit our embattled policy. This is not a time for timid arguments or half measures and compromises which implicitly agree with a need for criminal markets; it's a time to capitalize on the two greatest weaknesses of the drug war: neither its rationale nor its results can stand much intelligent scrutiny.Tom O'ConnellThe NY Times interview with Gen. McCaffrey, I thought that reviewing a few items from his final National Drug Control Strategy 2001 Annual Report and from the drug control office's own 1991-2001 budget comparison would be helpful in putting the General's comments into context. Mandatory minimums/crack-powder disparity: from the NY Times: "He called it 'silly' for federal law to impose harsher penalties for selling or possessing crack cocaine than for powder cocaine because they are two forms of the same drug.""He criticized predetermined prison sentences for drug felons, like those set under New York's Rockefeller-era drug laws. 'I am unalterably opposed to the system of mandatory minimums,' he said. 'I think we need to give this authority back to the judges.'"And here's what ONDCP's 2001 annual report recommends:"The Administration recommends that federal sentencing treat crack as ten times worse than powder, not one hundred times worse. Specifically, the amount of powder cocaine required to trigger a five-year mandatory sentence would be reduced from five hundred to two hundred and fifty grams while the amount of crack cocaine required to trigger the same sentence would increase from five grams to twenty-five grams.... The Administration also recommends that mandatory minimums be abolished for simple possession of crack."National Drug Control Strategy: 2001 Annual Report, issued Jan. 4, 2001, pp. 87-88Prevention funding: from the NY Times interview:"Since General McCaffrey took office, federal financing has increased by 55 percent for prevention programs and by 34 percent for treatment programs. 'It's been hard lifting, but we've made the arguments that resulted in $2.78 billion in federal money going into drug treatment,' he said.""The 2001 Annual Report notes:"Between FY 1996 and FY 2000, prevention funding increased by 48 percent -- second only to the percentage increase in international funding. Increases for prevention programs were targeted at Goal 1 of the Strategy, 'Educate and enable America's youth to reject illegal drugs as well as alcohol and tobacco.' The establishment of ONDCP's youth media campaign, funding for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) State Incentive Grants program, increased funding for Youth Tobacco prevention in the Department of Health and Human Services and additional funding for Office of Justice Programs drug prevention activities represent several of the key budget priorities supporting the strategy."National Drug Control Strategy: 2001 Annual Report, issued Jan. 4, 2001, p. 118. Actual Drug Budget Figures in Dollars:TREATMENT:  1993 $2,251.6 Billion1996 $2,553.8 Billion2000 $3,147.0 Billion (estimated) PREVENTION:  1993 $1,556.4 Billion1996 $1,400.7 Billion2000 $2,064.5 Billion (estimated) TOTAL DEMAND REDUCTION (treatment and prevention) 1993 $4,214.3 Billion1996 $4,691.9 Billion2000 $5,953.2 Billion DOMESTIC LAW ENFORCEMENT:  1993 $5,922.3 Billion1996 $7,393.7 Billion2000 $9,035.7 Billion (estimated) Source: National Drug Control Budget by Function, FY 1991-2001, from the web at: Doug McVay, Projects CoordinatorCommon Sense for Drug Policy,'s Parting Shots Belie the FactsTom O'Connell and Doug McVay Click the link to read all of DrugSense's Weekly News Bulletin.DrugSense Weekly, January 12, 2001 #182 Weekly, January 5, 2001 # 181 MapInc. Archives
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