Tony Newman at (646)335-5384 or Bill Piper at (202) 669-6430
The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), more commonly referred to as the drug czar’s office, is set to release its 2006 National Drug Control Strategy on Wednesday, February 8. The strategy is expected to claim progress in the war on drugs, while urging a continuation of the punitive drug war policies of the last thirty years. The nation’s leading drug policy reform organization, the Drug Policy Alliance, claims the drug war has been a miserable failure and calls for a new approach to preventing drug abuse.
“Every year the drug czar tries to put a good spin on the failure of the war on drugs,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “But, Americans should ask themselves, are drugs as available as ever? Yes. Do communities continue to be devastated by astronomical incarceration rates, and death and disease related to drug abuse and the drug prohibition? Yes.”
Despite spending hundreds of billions of dollars and incarcerating millions of Americans, experts acknowledge that drugs remain cheap, potent and widely available in every community. Meanwhile, the harms associated with drug abuse – addiction, overdose and the spread of HIV/AIDS and hepatitis – continue to mount. Add to this record of failure the collateral damage of the war on drugs – broken families, racial disparities, wasted tax dollars, and the erosion of civil liberties – and critics claim that it is foolish and irresponsible to claim success.
“What matters most is not whether drug use rates go up or down, but whether the death, disease, crime and suffering associated with both drugs and drug prohibition goes up or down,” said Nadelmann. “The current approach, with its drug free rhetoric and over-reliance on punitive, criminal justice policies costs billions more each year yet delivers less and less. It’s time for a new bottom line in drug policy, one that focuses on reducing the harms associated with both drug abuse and the war on drugs.
“There are several concrete steps that could be implemented tomorrow that could reduce drug-related HIV infections, overdoses and incarceration rates,” Nadelmann added.
According to the Drug Policy Alliance, if the government were serious about the health and welfare of its citizens, it would immediately take the following steps:
Death, disease and incarceration have become the legacy of ONDCP’s failed drug control strategy. Claims of success by the drug czar’s office do not stand up to the facts: