The President has released a budget that lays out a vision for how to create opportunity for all Americans, investing in items that will grow the economy, create jobs, increase skills training and improve education – all while continuing long term deficit reduction.
However, illegal drug use threatens the progress these opportunities will provide. In 2010, 100 people died every day from drug overdose, and the estimate in 2007 of the cost to the country of illicit drug use due to health care, crime, and lost productivity was $193 billion.
To address this burdening issue, the President’s National Drug Control Strategy represents a 21st century approach to drug policy that outlines innovative policies and programs and recognizes that substance use disorders are not just a criminal justice issue, but also a major public health concern. The Strategy lays out an evidence-based plan for real drug policy reform, spanning the spectrum of prevention, early intervention, treatment, recovery support, criminal justice reform, effective law enforcement, and international cooperation. In support of this Strategy, the President is requesting $25.4 billion in Fiscal Year 2015 to support a balanced approach that brings all sectors of society together in a national effort to improve public health and public safety.
This Administration has ensured that Federal funding to address the public health aspects of the issue has increased every year. It’s important to note that the portion of the budget spent on drug treatment and prevention efforts (43%) has grown to its highest level in over 12 years. Moreover, the $10.9 billion request for treatment and prevention is now nearly 20% higher than the $9.2 billion request for Federally-funded domestic drug law enforcement and incarceration.
A balanced, evidence-based approach working towards ensuring that the growing opportunity is not threatened.
Find more details on the President's drug control budget request here.
R. Gil Kerlikowske is the Director of National Drug Control Policy.