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GAO Says ONCDP Not Achieving Drug Goals So Far

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #782)
Politics & Advocacy

Just a day after the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP -- the drug czar's office) released its latest annual national drug control strategy, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has issued a report finding that ONDCP has fallen well short of goals enunciated in its 2010 national drug strategy.

In the report, Office of National Drug Control Policy: Office Could Better Identify Opportunities to Increase Program Coordination, GAO noted that ONDCP and the federal government "have not made progress toward achieving most of the goals articulated in the 2010 National Drug Control Strategy." In some areas, including reducing teen drug use, reducing drug overdose deaths, and reducing HIV infections from injection drug use, GAO found, ONDCP was not only not making progress, but sometimes the numbers were moving in the opposite direction.

For instance, under the broader goal of "curtailing illicit drug consumption in America," ONDCP had set use reduction goals to be achieved by 2015. It sought to reduce last month drug use by teens by 15%, but has achieved no movement. Similarly, it sought a 15% reduction in past month use by young adults, but has achieved no movement. It also sought to reduce lifetime use of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco by 8th graders by 15%, and was making progress toward its goal with alcohol and tobacco, but not with illegal drugs.

Likewise, under ONDCP's broad goal of "improving the public health and public safety of the American people by reducing the consequences of drug use," ONDCP identified goals of reducing overdose deaths, drug-related hospital emergency room visits, and drug-related HIV infections by 15% by 2015, but showed "movement away from goal" between 2010 and 2012.

Drug czar Gil Kerlikowske is talking up a "21st Century Approach" to drug use with a heavy emphasis on treatment and prevention, but the latest national drug budget still allocates 58% of funding to law enforcement and interdiction. And those remaining funds for treatment and prevention are "fragmented" across 15 federal agencies, with much overlapping. GAO reviewed 76 federal drug treatment and prevention programs and found 59 of them overlapped.

GAO did note that while ONDCP was not showing progress in most of its goals, it had implemented 107 of the 112 "action items" contemplated to meet those goals. The auditors noted that "ONDCP officials stated that implementing these action items is necessary, but may not be sufficient to achieve Strategy goals."

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Opie O'Phile (not verified)

The ONDCP fails yet again, but plans to keep on keeping on with its failed prohibitionist drug policies hoping that maybe this time it will be different. Isn't that the definition of insanity? We've had global prohibition of some drugs, never tobacco or alcohol, for going on nearly 100 years now. An expansive war on the people who use drugs for 40+ years. Even during alcohol Prohibition alcohol consumption was not criminal, only production and distribution. In some sense alcohol was decriminalized much like all drugs are today in Portugal. Also isn't it interesting how the only reduction in use among young persons was of the two legal drugs?


Before the 1914 Harrison Act passed, an 11-year old could walk into a pharmacy and purchase heroin or cocaine (and some indeed did that, see "Addicts who Survived" by David Courtwright). And yet somehow we had less problems with drug use (overdoses, crime, disease, ect) than we do today. While even the most libertarian minded support age restrictions on drug purchases, what do we have to show for nearly 100 years of prohibition of cocaine, opiates and cannabis? (cannabis was prohibited later so not quite 100 years for pot). Drug cartels so powerful they can topple governments, and led by men so wealthy they make Al Capone look small and insignificant . Epidemics of HIV and Hepatitis among injection drug users. The "Land of the Free" transformed into "The Land of the Most Incarcerated." Drug laws used as a proxy for new Jim Crow laws (see Michele Alexander's book). Criminalizing addiction (but not tobacco or alcohol addiction!), and thereby turning millions of people who have a health problem into criminals. Billions, if not trillions of dollars wasted. Assaults on traditional, religious and therapeutic uses of drug plants like coca, opium and cannabis. Billions in corporate welfare to pharmaceutical firms to create expensive drugs that often work less well than the traditional plants themselves. Why should chronic pain patients have to dole out a small fortune for oxycontin when they can grow their own opium (and/or cannabis) at home? Why do we have to submit to a doctor's authority (ie the prescription system) to heal oneself? Have we gone so far off the deep end with this futile pharmacratic inquisition that we have forgotten our basic freedoms of medicine and diet? 


Maybe you support cannabis reform but draw the line at cocaine and heroin. I implore you to extend your efforts at legalization to ALL the drug plants including cannabis, opium poppies, coca, khat, entheogenic plants or fungi, and any other plant used for its drug effects. Legalizing cannabis alone will not end the war on drugs. We need all options on the table. 

Sat, 04/27/2013 - 4:01pm Permalink
mexweeds (not verified)

1.  "Reducing teen drug use": define cannabis as NOT A DRUG but an herbal nutritional supplement; make all teens ONE-HIT-LITERATE by showing them how to use a 25-mg-per-lightup VAPE utensil instead of a 500-mg-per-lightup "easier to hide from the cop" joint; acquaint them not only with cannabis but with other alternative (i.e. non-tobacco, non-poppy, non-coca) herbs such as alfalfa, basil, camomile, damiana, eucalyptus, fo-ti-tieng, ginseng leaf, hibiscus, hops, etc.).

2.  "Reducing overdose deaths, emergency room visits"-- allow single tokes of cannabis-- and other herbs, mentioned above-- INSTEAD OF alcohol, crack, heroin, pharmaceuticals etc.

3.   Turn "progress" on tobacco into a total rout by encouraging every identified "smoking" teen to possess and use an E-CIGARETTE (misleadingly named, really a portable vaporizer).  Fallacious warnings that this could help get teens hooked on nicotine-- so what? NOT ONE REPORTED DEATH since invention (2003) attributed to use of e-cigarettes or to anyone getting hooked on HBOMS (hot burning overdose monoxide squares) because of e-cigs.

Sat, 04/27/2013 - 4:13pm Permalink
Giordano (not verified)

 Do we need a government committee to tell us this?  When did prohibition ever achieve its goals? 

It’s government for nothing, and nothing from government, and nothing’s free.

$50-billion+ is spent every year on the absolute certainty that allowing the legalization and regulation of recreational and spiritual drugs will cause the sky to fall.  The Netherlands’ and Portugal’s sky hasn’t fallen.  Not even Germany hassles people over small quantities of personal-use drugs.  Germany’s sky is okay.

The situation is so critical that a voter majority can’t move congress or the president to declare drug peace.  Okay, we get it.  The government is afraid to admit they could screw society up as bad as they have with prohibition.  That doesn’t change things.  The drug war is still a systemic rot eating away at the foundations of the general public welfare.  End the drug war and a mountain of differentiated evil accumulated in its wake will wash away.

Sat, 04/27/2013 - 8:50pm Permalink
kickback (not verified)

The ONDCP office is required to lie about Cannabis to get and keep their jobs . Congress laid out the rules for the office when it was created . Look it up . The so-called " drug control budget " is nothing more than tax payer subsidies for the law enforcement community . It amazes me at how the average U.S. citizen is un-aware of the reality that stare`s them in the face everyday . Has been for how long now ? Amazing . This budget is clear proof of the subsidy I just mentioned . These sociopaths are not hiding behind a curtain . They present their madness to the public and 46% of the public accepts it . This is why it continues . Amazing . Imagine having a career as a cop where you wage a war against a plant and against those you catch with that plant . You know , turn their lives upside down . War against a plant . The majority of plant cops also claim to be " christian " . Imagine that !? . A cop will make a plant bust/arrest on Saturday evening and then show up at church on Sunday morning . You just can`t make this stuff up!!!!.......................

Sun, 04/28/2013 - 6:07am Permalink
Anonymous431 (not verified)

We all know that the plant is mightier than the sword, its only a matter of time before the scales shift and our governing bodies must change their views.

Sun, 04/28/2013 - 1:48pm Permalink


Rick Wershe  is serving a LIFE sentence for one non-violent drug charge he got when he was 17 yrs old. Three years prior at the age of 14 Rick was recruited by the FEDs, DEA and Detroit police to work as a teenager undercover drug informant. Free Rick!
Letter from Ex Detroit cop ->
Letter from a former Federal agent who worked with Rick:
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Mon, 05/06/2013 - 9:49pm Permalink

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