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Panel Advises Cutting Salaries at Agency (ONDCP)

Location: 
Washington, DC
United States
Publication/Source: 
Associated Press
URL: 
http://dwb.sacbee.com/24hour/politics/story/3371410p-12405350c.html

ONCDP Media Campaign: Drug Czar's Anti-Drug Ads a Flop, GAO Says

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has found that the $1.4 billion anti-drug advertising campaign aimed at youth and managed by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (the drug czar's office, ONDCP) doesn’t work. The title of the GAO report, "ONDCP Media Campaign: Contractor's National Evaluation Did Not Find That the Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign Was Effective in Reducing Youth Drug Use, pretty much says it all.

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evidently doesn't work...
The GAO report is at least the third to criticize the program in the past three years. In 2003, the White House Office of Management and Budget qualified the program as "non-performing" and lacking any demonstrable results. In 2005, Westat, Inc. and the University of Pennsylvania did a $43 million federally-funded study that again found the campaign didn’t work. That evaluation found that kids and parents remembered the ads and their messages, but that the ads did not change kids' attitudes toward drugs. It also suggested that reported drops in teen drug use came not from the ad campaign but from a range of other factors.

The GAO study released last Friday evaluated Westat's evaluation of the ad campaign and found it credible. "GAO’s review of Westat’s evaluation reports and associated documentation leads to the conclusion that the evaluation provides credible evidence that the campaign was not effective in reducing youth drug use, either during the entire period of the campaign or during the period from 2002 to 2004 when the campaign was redirected and focused on marijuana use," GAO said in its executive summary.

ONDCP has, unsurprisingly, attacked the GAO report. Spokesman Tom Riley told USA Today the report is "irrelevant to us. It's based on ads from 2 ½ years ago, and they were effective, too. Drug use has been going down dramatically. Cutting the program now would imperil its progress."

Drug czar John Walters also complained that Westat wanted proof of an actual link between the ads and figures suggesting lower drug use among teens. "Establishing a causal relationship between exposure and outcomes is something major marketers rarely attempt because it is virtually impossible to do," Walters said in a letter. "This is one reason why the 'Truth' anti-tobacco advertising campaign, acclaimed as a successful initiative in view of the significant declines we've seen in teen smoking, did not claim to prove a causal relationship between campaign exposure and smoking outcomes, reporting instead that the campaign was associated with substantial declines in youth smoking."

Unlike Walters, Congress may want to see some sort of causal relationship between the ad campaign and drug use figures before it funds it for another year. The Bush administration wants another $120 million for fiscal year 2007, but the GAO said that absent a better plan from Walters, funding should be cut. Congress will consider the issue this fall.

Waiting to Inhale

Screening of a documentary on medical marijuana — and a debate between the Marijuana Policy Project's Rob Kampia, Drug Policy Alliance’s Ethan Nadleman, and two prohibitionists, including a representative from the drug czar’s office. The evening will begin with a screening of "Waiting to Inhale," a one-hour documentary that takes viewers inside the lives of seriously ill patients who have benefited from medical marijuana, as well as those who oppose the medical use of marijuana. Following the screening, MPP Executive Director Rob Kampia and Drug Policy Alliance Executive Director Ethan Nadelmann will debate David Murray, the special assistant to the White House drug czar, and Steve Steiner, the executive director of Dads and Mad Moms Against Drug Dealers. The debate will be moderated by syndicated columnist Clarence Page. WHEN: Wednesday, September 13, 7:30 — 8:30 p.m. WHERE: E Street Theatre, 555 11th Street, NW, Washington, D.C. TICKETS: Tickets are $7 each and can be purchased at the box office. For more information about “Waiting to Inhale,” please visit www.waitingtoinhale.org.
Date: 
Wed, 09/13/2006 - 7:30pm - 8:30pm
Location: 
555 11th Street
Washington, DC
United States

Medical Marijuana Debate to Feature Top Government Official, Pulitzer Prize Winner

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE August 30, 2006 Medical Marijuana Debate To Feature Top Government Official, Pulitzer Prize Winner Drug Czar Special Assistant David Murray to participate; journalist Clarence Page to moderate CONTACT: Jed Riffe, producer, “Waiting to Inhale” – (510) 845-2044 WASHINGTON D.C.— Dr. David Murray, special assistant to the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, has announced that he will be participating in an exciting debate on medical marijuana on September 13, 2006. Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and nationally syndicated journalist Clarence Page will be moderating the debate, which will take place following a screening of “Waiting to Inhale,” a provocative and educational medical marijuana documentary. Dr. Murray has served as the special assistant to Drug Czar John Walters since 2002. Murray earned his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago and taught at Connecticut College, Brown University, and Brandeis University before coming to Washington, where he served as an adjunct professor in the graduate school of public policy at Georgetown University. He was formerly the executive director of the Statistical Assessment Service (a science, media, and public policy think tank), served on the U.S. Census Monitoring Board, and is coauthor of “It Ain’t Necessarily So: How Media Remake the Scientific Picture of Reality.” Clarence Page is a syndicated journalist and member of the editorial board for the Chicago Tribune. He is an occasional panelist on “The McLaughlin Group,” a regular contributor of essays to “NewsHour with Jim Lehrer,” host of several documentaries on the Public Broadcasting Service, and an occasional commentator on National Public Radio's “Weekend Edition Sunday.” Page often appears as a political analyst on “Hardball with Chris Matthews.” Other panelists include Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP); Steve Steiner, executive director of Dads and Mad Moms Against Drug Dealers (DAMMAD); and Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). The medical marijuana documentary “Waiting to Inhale” examines both sides of the heated debate over marijuana and its use as medicine in the United States. Twelve states have passed legislation to protect patients who use medical marijuana. However, opponents claim the medical argument is just a smokescreen for a different agenda – to legalize marijuana for recreation and profit. “Waiting to Inhale” takes viewers inside the lives of patients who have been forever changed by illness — and parents who lost their children to addiction. “Waiting to Inhale” sheds new light on this controversy and presents shocking new evidence that marijuana could hold a big stake in the future of medicine. For more information, visit www.WaitingToInhale.org.
Location: 
United States

Editorial: Sometimes They Tell the Truth

David Borden, Executive Director

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/borden12.jpg
David Borden
It's alternately refreshing or appalling to hear public officials who deal with drug policy occasionally tell the truth about it. This week reformers got to bring home some of both.

The refreshing truth-telling came from Great Britain, where a Parliamentary Committee harshly tore into the official drug classification scheme used in the Misuse of Drugs Act, and the agency that is responsible for maintaining it. Many of the rankings seemed to have resulted from "knee-jerk responses to media storms," the committee charged, with no consistency and "no solid evidence to back-up the view that classification had a deterrent effect." "The current classification system is riddled with anomalies and clearly not fit for its purpose," the chairman said. "From what we have seen, the Home Office and ACMD approach to classification seems to have been based on ad hockery and conservatism." (See two articles below in this issue to read all about it.)

Gotta like that! But now for one that I don't like -- not at all. In Philadelphia, one of the cities suffering under the crisis of fentanyl-laced heroin and the resulting wave of often fatal overdoses, the harm reduction program Prevention Point Philadelphia, partnering with a local physician, has begun to help distribute naloxone, a medication that if used soon enough during an overdose can save the victim's life.

Naloxone distribution is a type of program known as "harm reduction," the idea of which is that since we know some people are going to use drugs regardless of how we fight them, there are things that can be done to help them save their lives and the lives of others -- even before they stop using drugs, for that matter even if they never stop using drugs. Needle exchange programs are another example of harm reduction at work.

The drug czar's office reacted to the PPP venture with criticism. If heroin users have a chance of surviving an overdose, the reasoning went, it is "disinhibiting" to the objective of getting addicts to just stop using the stuff. "We don't want to send the message out that there is a safe way to use heroin," an ONDCP spokesperson said. But "dead addicts don't recover," as the common mantra in the harm reduction field goes.

While the drug czar's position is dead wrong about this -- deadly wrong, in fact -- the comment seems a fairly truthful explanation of the horrible way that many drug warriors think. It is a direct corollary of the spokesperson's comment that it is better to have people who could be saved instead die, in order to dissuade others from using drugs -- better to make sure that drugs kill -- so that everyone will be sure that drugs do kill. But the dead from overdoses are definitely (and permanently) dead, whereas those who, through the withholding of livesaving assistance to some, are thereby saved from death through their own choices, may or may not exist.

Those who oppose harm reduction are in effect supporting "harm intensification" instead -- a deliberate attempt through policy to increase the dangers of drugs -- at a cost of lives, and in my view of morality too.

But that is what prohibition is truly about, harm intensification on a global scale. Hence the need for legalization instead -- so morally defunct ideas like those expressed this week by the drug czar's office can be laid to rest and their ghastly consequences finally be made to cease.

Harm Reduction: Drug Czar's Office Opposes Letting Heroin Users Have Easy Access to Overdose Antidote

When heroin users around Philadelphia started overdosing on junk laced with fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opiate, a local harm reduction group began working with a sympathetic physician to provide addicts prescriptions to naloxone (brand name Narcan). The Office of National Drug Control Policy thinks that's a bad idea.

In many cities, paramedics carry Narcan with them, but by the time they arrive on the scene, it can be too late, explained Casey Cook, executive director of Prevention Point Philadelphia, the group that runs the city's needle exchange program. "If people have to rely on paramedics, more often than not, the overdose is going to be fatal, just because of the amount of time for people to get there," she told the Associated Press in an interview last Friday.

But the drug czar's office is worried that providing addicts with the means to survive an overdose would prove "disinhibiting," much the same way social conservatives argue that providing teenagers with condoms to prevent pregnancy and disease "disinhibits" them from remaining abstinent. ONDCP doesn't want to appear to condone drug use. "We don't want to send the message out that there is a safe way to use heroin," said Jennifer DeVallance, an ONDCP spokesperson told the AP.

There were some 16,000 drug-related deaths reported in 2002, the vast majority of them involving either heroin or prescription opiates, and at least 400 people have died in the wave of fentanyl-related heroin ODs in the past few months. Better they should die than people think heroin is safe, huh?

Drug Czar: Meth Battles Needs Tighter Border Control, Treatment

Location: 
United States
Publication/Source: 
Associated Press
URL: 
http://www.charlotte.com/mld/observer/news/local/15172904.htm

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