Office of Drug Control Policy Admits Failing

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OFFICE OF NATIONAL DRUG CONTROL POLICY Lack of Progress on Achieving National Strategy Goals
Statement of David C. Maurer, Director, Homeland Security and Justice – December 2, 2015

Highlights of testimony before the Subcommittee on Government Operations, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, U.S. House of Representatives.

The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) is responsible for coordinating the implementation of drug control policy across the federal government and funds High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTAs) that aim to support the disruption and dismantlement of drug-trafficking and money-laundering organizations.  The statement addressed, in part, the extent to which ONDCP has achieved its Strategy goals.  The statement is based on a March 2013 report , an April 2013 report, and selected updates as of November 2015.

The ONDCP was established by the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 to, among other things, enhance national drug control planning and coordination and represent the drug policies of the executive branch before Congress.  The ONDCP reported about $26.3 billion was provided for drug control programs in fiscal year 2015.

The ONDCP  changed its approach in its 2010 Strategy from publishing a 1-year Strategy to publishing a 5 year Strategy, which ONDCP is supposed to update annually.  The ONDCP established two primary policy goals in the 2010 Strategy for curtailing illicit drug consumption and improving public health by reducing the consequences of drug abuse, which included seven sub-goals designed to demonstrate specific outcomes to be achieved by 2015.  The seven strategy goals, and movement toward or way from those goals, are listed in the table summaries below. 

In November 2015, the ONDCP issued its annual report assessing progress toward the seven goals.  As can be seen in the Table summaries below, most of the Strategy goals were either not met, or movement was in the opposite direction – in other words, illicit drug use stayed the same or increased and public health suffered.  The only positive is that illicit drug use among the youngest segment (12-17 year olds) slightly decreased, but there was no change for 18-15 year olds.  At best, it seems drug use has been merely delayed.  Heroin use stayed the same, marijuana use increased, and there were slight decreases for cocaine and meth.  Drug induced deaths, emergency room visits, and drugged driving all increased.  Further evidence that the Drug War has been and continues to be a failure.

Read the entire statement here.

  Table 1: 2010 National Drug Control Strategy Goals and Progress toward Meeting Them, as of March 2013

Curtail illicit drug consumption in America

1.       Decrease the 30-day prevalence of drug use among 12- to 17-year-olds by 15 percent – no change

2.       Decrease the lifetime prevalence of eighth graders who have used drugs, alcohol, or tobacco by 15 percent – slight decrease for illicit drugs, met goals for alcohol and tobacco

3.       Decrease the 30-day prevalence of drug use among young adults aged 18-25 by 10 percent – no change

4.       Reduce the number of chronic drug users by 15 percent – no data

Improve the public health and public safety of the American people by reducing the consequences of drug abuse

5.       Reduce drug-induced deaths by 15 percent – moved away from goal (things got worse)

6.       Reduce drug-related morbidity by 15 percent  – Emergency room visits for drug misuse and abuse and HIV infections attributable to drug use – moved away from goal (things got worse)

7.       Reduce the prevalence of drugged driving by 10 percent – no data

Table 2: 2010 National Drug Control Strategy Goals and the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s (ONDCP) Reported Progress toward Meeting Them, as of November 2015

1.       Decrease the 30-day prevalence of drug use among 12- to 17-year-olds by 15 percent – movement toward goal

2.       Decrease the lifetime prevalence of eighth graders who have used drugs, alcohol, or tobacco by 15 percent – increase for illicit drugs (moved away from goal), met goals for alcohol and tobacco

3.       Decrease the 30-day prevalence of drug use among young adults aged 18-25 by 10 percent – no change

4.       Reduce the number of chronic drug users by 15 percent – Cocaine use slight decrease, heroin use the same, marijuana use increased, meth use slight decrease

Improve the public health and public safety of the American people by reducing the consequences of drug abuse

5.       Reduce drug-induced deaths by 15 percent – moved away from goal (things got worse – 39,147 deaths in 2009 to 46,471 in 2013)

6.       Reduce drug-related morbidity by 15 percent  – Emergency room visits for drug misuse and abuse – moved away from goal (things got worse) and HIV infections attributable to drug use – met goals

7.       Reduce the prevalence of drugged driving by 10 percent – moved away from goal (things got worse).

Read the entire statement here.