March 4, 2004 - The Drug Policy Alliance

Reports Show Bush Administration Losing the Drug War

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The Bush administration's failure to meet its drug war goals at home and abroad is laid bare in two recently released government reports. The 2004 White House National Drug Control Strategy and the Department of State's International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), both released this week, show that the administration's increasingly cruel domestic and international drug war policies do little to reduce drug supply or demand.

This year's Strategy, using loaded language about "doctor shopping" and "pill popping," includes a major new offensive against pain patients, their doctors, and caregivers by focusing even more law enforcement resources on prescription drugs. Already, under President Bush, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has arrested doctors who prescribe pain medications ­ ranging from OxyContin to prescription versions of Tylenol ­ and the seriously ill patients who legally use the drugs.

In announcing the Strategy report, President Bush took credit for his claim that the administration achieved an 11% reduction in drug use among youth, while ignoring the fact he failed to reach his goal of reducing overall drug use by 10%.

Almost identical to last year's report, this year's Drug Control Strategy uses smoke and mirror accounting to downplay the enormous cost of the "war on drugs" by excluding billions of dollars spent incarcerating drug offenders, military expenditures, prison costs, and certain law enforcement efforts ­ while claiming to spend much more on drug treatment that it actually does. The report shows that the Bush administration continues to perpetuate drug policies that rely on law enforcement and interdiction and focus relatively minor attention on education and treatment.

In the INCSR report, which describes the international drug war efforts of key countries, President Bush identifies more than a dozen U.S. allies as major drug-transit or illicit-drug-producing countries, including Afghanistan, the Bahamas, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Thailand, and Venezuela. Most of these countries receive billions of U.S. dollars for military and civilian programs aimed at eradicating drug production and transit, even though many of these programs have serious health and environmental consequences and are implemented by governments with questionable human rights histories.

March 2, 2004 - The Drug Policy Alliance

Government Report Exposes Deceitful White House "Marijuana Treatment" Claims

Countering bogus claims by White House Drug Czar John Walters that hundreds of thousands of marijuana addicts are flocking to drug treatment, a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) report shows that 82.5% of people seeking treatment for marijuana ­ a stunning majority ­ are doing so only because of government coercion. The report shows that many of those in treatment for marijuana do not enter because of problems with the drug but because they are first-time offenders arrested for marijuana possession who have been given the option by a judge or drug court to choose drug treatment or jail.

According to the government report, fifty-seven percent of the 255,000 individuals admitted for primary marijuana treatment in 2001 were referred by the criminal justice system ­ that is, they chose treatment over jail. Many of these individuals are youth who have been caught with the drug. Admissions involving primary marijuana and no alcohol increased by an astonishing 520% from 1992-2001, the nine-year period covered by the report, and made up 15% of all admissions. This highlights the astonishing time and cost spent targeting marijuana users in the taxpayer funded "war on drugs". In the final year of the report, 800,000 Americans were arrested on marijuana charges ­ most of these are arrested for possession.

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