According to media reports, Donald Trump has proposed slashing the budget for the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) from nearly $400 million per year to $24 million in fiscal year 2018, which begins September 1, 2017. UPI reports that such a funding cut would eliminate 33 jobs from the the so-called “drug czar” personnel.
UPI adds, the ONDCP which was “created in 1982 under President Ronald Reagan, is responsible for managing the executive branch’s anti-drug efforts and coordinating with state and local authorities to those ends.” In other words, the ONDCP is responsible for government propaganda that tells people, in the words of Mr Mackey from South Park, “Drugs are bad. You shouldn’t drugs. If you do them, you’re bad, because drugs are bad, mkay.”
However spreading propaganda about drugs is not the only activity of the ONDCP. They also oversee the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) and Drug-Free Communities Support (DFC) programs. US News reports Bill Piper, senior director for national affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance, says he agrees with the budget proposal, “Historically it’s been a propaganda group more than anything else. Given everything Trump and [Attorney General Jeff] Sessions have said and done, it’s probably a good thing if this agency is eliminated.” Adding, “HIDTA and DFA programs are a waste of money” that “contribute to mass incarceration”, “use taxpayer dollars to oppose legalization,” and fund groups that “focus on stigmatizing drug users.”
According to a leaked document from the Office of Management and Budget, HIDTA & DFCA are duplicitous of other federal programs, and those other programs do not appear to be on the chopping block. However, the temporary spending bill passed by Congress recently did chop the DOJ’s ability to enforce federal cannabis laws in 44 states, DC, Guam & Puerto Rico (Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota & South Dakota were excluded from this provision). That budget bill also prohibits the DOJ & DEA from interfering with Industrial Hemp research across the country.
These measures are sure to upset Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who in February said, states can “pass the laws they choose,” adding it’s still “a violation of federal law to distribute marijuana throughout any place in the United States, whether a state legalizes it or not.”
While these budget cuts may give some cause to celebrate what is effectively a cease-fire in one front of the Drug War, millions of dollar will still be spent prosecuting and incarcerating people who have created no identifiable victim. The War on Drugs has been going on for 45 years, and the drugs are winning!