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February 2006
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Drug War Budget Follies

So the Drug Czar went to Denver to announce the new National Drug Control Strategy. Gee, I wonder why he went there? Marijuana Policy Project was all over that move…

White House Drug Strategy: Use Tax Dollars
to Campaign Against Reform

Document Continues Failed Policies as Officials Lobby
Against Common-Sense Reforms, MPP Charges

DENVER, COLORADO — The 2006 National Drug Control Strategy unveiled today by White House Drug Czar John Walters renews concerns about the federal government’s continuing use of tax dollars to campaign against changes to failed drug policies, officials of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) charged. The plan was released at a news conference in Denver, where voters in November passed an initiative that made adult possession and use of marijuana legal under city ordinance.

“This document signals that the administration will continue using tax dollars to campaign against common-sense reforms, while wasting billions on failed policies,” said MPP Director of Government Relations Aaron Houston. “It is not a coincidence that John Walters took his junket to Denver, where voters dealt a stinging rebuke to the government’s war on marijuana.”

In that release, MPP also dramatically demonstrates the lie that Walters loves to promote — that drug warriors have a hard time countering the “well-funded” legalization lobby. This chart (pdf) shows just how little drug policy reform organizations have compared to their opposition.
In a related bit of news, President Bush gave a speech on Wednesday:

I’ve got a group of folks that are constantly analyzing whether or not the federal government is doing what you’re doing — doing what you expect us to do. You realize we spend $2.7 trillion a year, and there are more than 1,000 federal programs. That’s a lot, that’s a lot of programs. And it makes sense to make sure that they’re working. See, good intentions aren’t enough, as far as this administration is concerned. We’re insisting that people show us, program managers show us, whether or not they’re achieving — these programs achieve results.

[…]The point is, is that if they can’t prove they’re achieving good results, then the programs, in my judgment, ought to be eliminated and/or trimmed back. That’s why I told you earlier, we found 141 such programs. And we did the same thing in last year’s budget, as well.

One of the interesting innovations that we have put forth is a new website, called expectmore.gov. It’s a program where — it’s a website where we start to put the measurement results up for everybody to see. Nothing like transparency into the federal bureaucracy to determine whether or not a program is working. And so I think you’ll find it innovative — I do — that the White House has put this website up. And you’ll be able to see whether or not results are being achieved for the money spent.

So, what do we find at expectmore.gov?

  Safe and Drug Free Schools State Grants   Ineffective
  Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant   Ineffective
  Coast Guard: Drug Interdiction   Results Not Demonstrated
  Community Oriented Policing Services   Results Not Demonstrated
  Drug Courts   Results Not Demonstrated
  Multipurpose Law Enforcement Grants (Byrne)   Results Not Demonstrated
  Residential Substance Abuse Treatment   Results Not Demonstrated
  Counterdrug Research & Development   Results Not Demonstrated
  Counterdrug Technology Transfer Program   Results Not Demonstrated
  High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas   Results Not Demonstrated
  Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign   Results Not Demonstrated

…and just to let you know how low the bar is set on these, both the DEA and the Andean Counter Drug Initiative (two of the most outrageous wastes of taxpayer funds) got grades of “Adequate.” I was unable to find any drug war programs listed as “Effective.”
So, Mr. President. If you really want to reduce the deficit and eliminate programs that aren’t achieving good results, shouldn’t we be taking a closer look at the drug war?

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