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(Considering what's to follow, I'm doubting the Wead release was timed by the White House)

The Administration budget suggests a major shift in doctrine in federal drug policy. Several major categories in federal enforcement, and enforcement grants to the States, are eliminated, while a trial program funding vouchers for treatment is scaled up, with a tripled budget. The vouchers may be used at either "faithbased" or secular programs.

Among agencies set to be wiped, the scandal pagued and ineffectual National Drug Intelligence Center in Johnstown,  PA, and the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program, a series of Fed/State/Local task forces. (more)

Will Congressional Democrats take what's right in the Bush plan, and seek to augment it, or join the most demagogic of the GOP in preserving the prohibitionist status quo?

My guess, Conyers gets further reforms into the House version, Biden tries to undo it in Senate Judiciary. Whither Arlen Specter?

Release from Drug Policy Alliance, a prominent reform group:

Tuesday, February 17, 2005
President Bush's proposed 2006 federal budget is out and it has some interesting implications for the drug war. For starters, Bush wants to eliminate more than a billon dollars in federal law-enforcement grants to the states, including the problematic Byrne grant program. These grants subsidized the largest prison expansion in American history.  Without them, it's doubtful that states could afford to continue to pursue draconian "lock `em up" approaches to drugs. Bush also wants to completely eliminate the federal Safe and Drug Free Schools Program, which among other things helps states fund DARE and other over-the-top anti-drug programs. He is also recommending level funding for the government's anti-drug media campaign, which adjusted for inflation would mean essentially a slight cut to the program. At the same time Bush is cutting these programs, he is trying to double - and in some cases triple - the amount of money going to drug treatment programs, most notably his novel Access to Recovery program which gives vouchers to people needing access to drug treatment.

At a Congressional hearing last week, Drug Czar John Walters defended the Bush budget from hostile members of Congress and said it's time to eliminate anti-drug programs that don't work and increase funding for programs that do work. Walters went on to say that the federal government should stop focusing so many resources on low-level offenders:

"It could be a more powerful tool if it's moved and integrated, remains state and local focused, and part of a consolidated break the businesses that are the drug trade. Otherwise, you are chasing primarily small people, putting them in jail, year after year, generation after generation. Break the business. Don't break generation after generation... of young men, especially poor, minority young men in our cities, and [put] them in jail."
 There is, however, plenty in the Bush budget to criticize - especially Bush's proposal to give states $25 million a year to enact random student drug testing. Bush is also proposing to give more money to the DEA, which already wastes too much money arresting medical marijuana patients and their caregivers. Still, it's good to hear White House officials talk about the need to eliminate drug war programs that don't work. It's even better to hear them admit that the drug war is wasting too many lives, costing too much money, and perpetuating racial disparities. We couldn't have said it better


Originally posted to ben masel on Sun Feb 20, 2005 at 08:38 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  thats good news (none)
    but i wouldn't hold my breath waiting on our representatives to do the right thing. It is quite shocking to me that it is bush's czar who wants to take the focus off of small-timers.Seems like a no brainer to me, but on this issue,our leadership acts like it has no brains.      
  •  another piece of the puzzle (none)
    I have been waiting to see what special interest groups were most likely to benefit from the initiatives of our President. We already have seen Wall Street belly up to the trough with SS reform, pornographers are clearly getting a return on their investment in Bush with pin-headed morality that only adds value to their wanker goods, then there is the war material group, and so many others...
    Apparently, we now can add the drug lords to Bush's shadow group of supporters. Although I heard some senior WH appointee from the DEA drug say, with a straight face, that this was an escalation against the war on drugs.
    •  Disagree. (none)
      Enforcement keeps up prices, treatment drives them down, and the cut in enforcement money is for the bottom end of the distribution chain. In a high unemployment economy, retailers are replaceable.

      The Republican Party: We get government off your back, and drop it on your head.

      by ben masel on Mon Feb 21, 2005 at 07:42:36 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  You may want to repost this (4.00)
    tomorrow when more people can read it and enjoy your research. This topic is generally ignored at DKos, sadly.
  •  Loose joints? (none)
    : )=~

    The Republican Party: We get government off your back, and drop it on your head.

    by ben masel on Mon Feb 21, 2005 at 07:09:09 PM PST

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