Outgoing Drug Czar Issues Report Claiming; Critics Say Drug War Has Failed, New Standards are Needed

Press Release January 3, 2001
Media Contact

Tony Newman at 510.208.7711 or Ethan Nadelmann at 212-613-8020

Today President Clinton’s director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy presented his final report on the results of the Drug War. Drug Czar General Barry McCaffrey claims “substantial progress” in the fight against illegal drugs during his tenure. Critics challenge his criteria for success.

“Barry McCaffrey will be remembered as yet another failed drug czar — one whose rhetorical calls for more treatment and less incarceration were not matched by any substantive change in policy or budgetary priorities,” said Ethan Nadelmann, director of the Lindesmith Center – Drug Policy Foundation, a leading drug policy institute in New York. “But, to be fair,” he added, “the war on drugs persists because most politicians dare not admit that the strategy itself is fundamentally flawed.”

Nadelmann points to the following indicators of the public health costs of drug use and our current prohibitionist policy:

“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. As President-elect Bush considers Barry McCaffrey’s successor, he should recognize that U.S. drug policy needs a new bottom line — one that focuses not on reducing the total number of people who use drugs but rather on reducing the death, disease, crime and suffering associated with both drug use and drug prohibition,” Nadelmann said.

According to the Lindesmith Center – Drug Policy Foundation, if the government were serious about the health and welfare of its citizens, it would immediately take the following steps:

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

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