Drug War Budget Cuts Might Gut Prevention


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That's the take-away from "The Federal Drug Budget Under Sequestration" by the policy wonks at Carnevale Associates, in their December Policy Brief.

The federal drug war is starving for revenue and we're printing money to feed it — but it's still losing weight. Now that the deficit supercommittee has failed to close the federal budget gap, mandatory budget cuts called "sequestration" are going to kick in, and Carnevale — headed by John Carnevale, an economics PhD and drug-war insider — can do the math on how that'll change the drug war. The answer: same battle, less treatment. Lovely.

"[President Obama's 'treatment not jail'] drug policy and the budget to implement it will be substantially at odds," Carnevale Associates write.

And the President has little discretion: “Because of the structure of the drug budget, automatic cuts favor supply reduction programs and may have a disproportionate impact on demand reduction programs.”

That means prevention programs could get whacked by 40 percent. Meanwhile, interdiction programs that do nothing to reduce supply or availability: 6 percent.


Fun fact: there is no single drug war budget — the $15 billion a year comes from ten congressional appropriations that cover fourteen major departments consisting of forty bureaus and agencies.

By comparison, in 1931, the U.S. started its war on drugs with one bureau: the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. Its budget in 1931? $1,712,998. Not adjusted for inflation. With inflation: $23,320,072. That's 1/643rd of today's budget. That means the drug war budget has gone up an average of 8.3 percent each year for 81 years.

Whenever anyone says they're against "runaway government spending" but for the Drug War — they're lying.
[via Sterling on Justice & Drugs, Drug Policy Examiner Brad Schlesigner]

[The Protectors, Harry J. Anslinger and the Federal Bureau of Narcotics 1930-1962 McWilliams, John C.]