Experts Criticize White House Drug Strategy as More of the Same Failed Policies

Press Release February 7, 1999
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Tony Newman at 510-208-7711 x 1383

NEW YORK – By focusing more money on interdiction and criminal justice than on public health efforts, policy experts say the 1999 National Drug Control Strategy is simply more of the same failed drug policies. Experts cite growing evidence that the government’s “war on drugs” is failing and endangering the health and welfare of citizens in the United States and around the world. Recent studies support the view that the drug war approach has failed to substantially decrease drug use, and may be fueling drug overdose deaths, drug-related emergencies and the spread of drug-related disease.

“This plan suggests that the White House is attempting to base drug policy on science and health, but unfortunately it’s just another example of throwing billions of dollars down the bottomless pits of interdiction and failed prevention programs,” said Ethan Nadelmann, founder and director of the Lindesmith Center.

Two recent studies point to the failure of the drug war. According to a study released last week by the American Bar Association, increased law enforcement has been accompanied by an increase in illegal drug use.

Further, a recent study in the January/February 1999 edition of Public Health Reports reveals that current U.S. drug policy is fueling drug overdose deaths, drug-related emergency room visits and making it harder to treat or stop the spread of drug-related disease such as aids and hepatitis. The study can be found on the web at

“From a public health point of view, drug prohibition has been a disaster,” said Dr. Ernest Drucker, a professor of epidemiology at Einstein College of Medicine, and author of the Public Health Reports study. “The policy of arresting drug users guarantees additional suffering. And while our government officials claim their policies are reducing some ‘casual drug use,’ hard drug use, addiction, drug-related emergencies and deaths are on the rise, including a sharp increase in drug-related disease.” The Lindesmith Center is a New York-based drug policy research institute that concentrates on broadening the drug policy debate.

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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