Federal Budget: House 2009 Appropriations Bill Contains Even More Drug War Funding Increases... And a Slight Cut to Plan Colombia

Just two weeks ago, the Congress passed the $787 billion economic stimulus bill, which included $3.8 billion for law enforcement, much of it destined for continuing the war on drugs. On Monday, the free-spending House Democratic leadership was at it again as it unveiled its fiscal year 2009 omnibus appropriations bill, and again there is more money for drug law enforcement.

coca eradication in Plan Colombia (courtesy SF Bay Area IndyMedia)
To the undoubted dismay of drug reformers, taxpayer groups, fiscal conservatives, and good governance advocates alike, the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant program looks to once again get increased funding. The appropriations bill contemplates $2 billion for the Office of Justice Programs, a 16% increase over 2008's $1.679 appropriation. The biggest chunk of that will go to the Byrne JAG grant program.

While the Byrne JAG grants can be used to fund drug courts and drug prevention programs, they are most commonly used to fund multi-jurisdictional anti-drug law enforcement task forces, such as the ones that ran amok in Texas in recent years. Arguing that the spending had not proven effective, the Bush administration attempted to substantially reduce or even zero out Byrne JAG grant funding, but faced constant opposition from "tough on crime" representatives from both parties.

Besides funding the Byrne JAG grant program at higher levels than last year, the appropriations bill includes $550 million for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program, which got $1 billion just two weeks ago in the economic stimulus bill. It also includes another $3.2 billion for state and local law enforcement crime prevention grants -- another area where the Bush administration sought and got funding reductions. This grant program was cut from $4.7 billion to $2.7 billion during the Bush years.

anti-Plan Colombia poster (courtesy Colombia IndyMedia)
The Drug Enforcement Administration is also a winner, garnering an $84 million increase over 2008 and pushing its annual budget to $1.9 billion. That includes $73 million earmarked "to fight meth including targeted areas in 'hot spots.'"

And so is the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The congressional response to a federal prison system straining under the results of harsh federal drug law enforcement and sentencing laws is to simply increase the prison budget. Under the bill, the BOP budget would jump nearly 10% to $6.2 billion.

There are also drug war spending increases -- and one notable decrease -- in the State Department and foreign operations section of the appropriations bill. The Merida Initiative to assist the Mexican state in its battle against violent drug trafficking organizations would get $405 million. That's on top of a $465 million emergency appropriation already passed. And the State Department's Bureau of International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement -- known colloquially as "drugs and thugs" -- is in line for a whopping 35% budget increase, from $557 million in 2008 to $875 million this year.

The one drug war loser in the appropriations bill is Plan Colombia, known as the Andean Counterdrug Program under the Bush administration. With the US having poured more than $5 billion into the program since 1999, only to see coca production increase, House Democrats are moving to shave just a few dollars from that failed program. Instead of the $405 million the Bush administration requested for 2009 or the $320 million that Plan Colombia received in 2008, the new appropriations bill has only $315 million for the Andean drug war.

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An increase in spending for the drug war? Sounds rediculous to me that the new prez would do something totally backasswards to what was promised in his pre election speaches.. Go figure. Has anyone ever thought about this. If he was truly serious, a huge cut woulda been on the boards instead of an increase.
I can see why "harmful" drugs might need an increase, but for the love of God, leave the poor marijuana users alone. They bother no one nor cause problems , but for the maniacal arrests that crush homes and lives.


Oh My God, not more waste money on Byrne grants. Stupid politicians indeed, more funding of Richard Nixon's failed war on Cannabis.

Praise the BOP

Thanks to everyone who had a hand in increasing the budget for the Bureau of Prisons. Without the brave men and women of the BOP we would have to deal on the streets with all of the scumbags that they keep locked up for us. How many of you women that call, write and e-mail your man in prison and refer to yourselves as "Wifey" realize that on average these clowns have 5 or 6 women that they beg for money while promising to marry them when they are released? They play you and you have no idea. You are out here contacting politicians, writing letters, visiting and sending in the money-orders.

He tells you the food is garbage and he needs money to go to the commissary. You tell him how tough things are in the economy and how the kids are hungry and he tells you he needs new shoes and you need to do your wifely duty and send him some money. So what if the electric bill is late, he needs some "cosmetics". What kind of man says he needs cosmetics? What kind of man puts his needs before his wife and children? I think you know, we call them inmates.

wow lol, you obviously has a

wow lol, you obviously has a personal issue not at all related to intellectual reasoning.

Re: Praise the BOP

I take it you have personal experience as an inmate from your comment.

The public has this right, can't the politicans see this!

Praise the BOP, ya right!

They are incarcerating far too many non-violent offenders! Many of these individuals for simple possession of marijuana. Further, many families are ripped apart and lives ruined! All so little Mr. & Mrs. Scaredy-Pants can feel comforted at night and sip on their wine and gin while eating some apple pie. Oh the hypocrisy.

Of course, the drug war runs much deeper than that!

Honestly though, what a joke! This unjust and highly immoral war against marijuana should cease immediately! The Byrne/JAG grants should be reduced and forfeiture and seizures curbed or eliminated when dealing with non-violent crime... period!

Tax Money..

Well I guess like any story there are two sides.. sure it's easy to hate the government and the police, but how would you feel about some nigga/spic/white trash that was trying to get your 11 year old son to buy weed from him at his middle school? Even worse, coke or ecstasy.

Not to mention that, what if you were a rich white dude who actually HAS the power to do something about that nigga? And so, our current situation and allocation of funds here in 2009 is such...

Its truly a shame that non-violent personal users are sometimes given the same harsh treatment as the person described above... sorry if i sound racist, but I think more people will be able to relate... I also really don't like political correctness.

What if the same guy described above was trying to hook your 11 year old on Jack Daniels? Hmm...

If officers don't make enough marijuana arrests each year then they will be fired... and the money they receieve from Byrne/JAG will have gone to waste... What would you do if you were a cop, knowing your job (food for your family) is on the line? Also knowing that you have a culture that you need to fit in with... Even if you support marijuana you'd probably end up fucking a lot of people.


If the police officers at the station which jailed my friend for driving high was ransacked by terrorists I would be happy. As awful as that sounds...

I live with my mother and brother who are devout marijuana opponents.. I am very familiar with the state of mind of people who are against it, and It's a very hard, if not impossible state of mind to change.. Also I've noticed that people tend to get more and more closed minded the older they get, and also more defined by how correct they are. Imagine trying to tell someone (a 70 year old governor) that they've actually been WRONG all along. LOL HAVE FUN!


There is next to nothing we can do about the current state of our nation. If you like marijuana, don't deal it in high quantities and keep it on the DOWN LOW.... carry spray in your car and try your best to drive under the speed limit and stay in the RIGHT lane.

Also, the nigga from above? He would actually suffer the most if the shit was made legal.

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