In response to a report from the Global Commission on Drug Policy, the Obama Administration issued a statement today countering the Commission’s call to legalize drugs.
"The Obama Administration's efforts to reduce drug use are not born out of a culture war or drug war mentality, but out of the recognition that drug use strains our economy, health, and public safety. The bottom line is that balanced drug control efforts are making a big difference. Today, drug use in America is half of what it was thirty years ago, cocaine production in Colombia has dropped by almost two-thirds, and we're successfully diverting thousands of non-violent offenders into treatment instead of jail by supporting alternatives to incarceration. Drug addiction is a disease that can be successfully prevented and treated. Making drugs more available - as this report suggests - will make it harder to keep our communities healthy and safe," said Rafael Lemaitre, Communications Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).
ONDCP notes that:
- Overall drug use in the United States has dropped substantially over the past 30 years, with the number of Americans using illicit drugs today at half the rate it was in the late 70's.
- More recently, there has been a 46 percent drop in current cocaine use among young adults (age 18 to 25 years) over the past five years, and a 68 percent drop in the rate of people testing positive for cocaine in the workplace since 2006. Additionally, the potential production capacity for pure cocaine in Colombia has declined from an estimated 700 metric tons potential cocaine production in 2001 to only 270 metric tons in 2009—a 61 percent drop.
- According to the latest UN World Drug Report (2010) "Demand for cocaine in the U.S. has been in long-term decline."
- The President's inaugural Drug Control Strategy - released one year ago - is a marked departure from previous approaches to drug policy. The Strategy focuses on both the public health and public safety aspects of drug abuse and addiction. It focuses on addiction as a disease and on the importance of preventing drug use, as well as providing treatment to those who need it, including those who are involved in the criminal justice system. For the first time, it emphasizes support for millions of individuals who are in recovery from drug addiction. The President's Budget, dedicates over $10 billion in Federal funds for reducing drug consumption in the United States.
- Legalization remains a non-starter in the Obama Administration because research shows that illegal drug use is associated with voluntary treatment admissions, fatal drugged driving accidents, mental illness, and emergency room admissions.
- An independent 2010 study from RAND concluded that "legalizing marijuana in California will not dramatically reduce the drug revenues collected by Mexican drug trafficking organizations from sales to the United States," We also know that these groups produce and traffic methamphetamine and heroin, continue to move significant amounts of cocaine, and conduct an array of criminal activities including kidnapping, extortion, and human trafficking. Because of the variety and scope of the cartels' business, and its illicit and purposefully obscured nature, determining the precise percentage of revenues from marijuana is problematic, but we can be very confident that even the complete elimination of one of their illicit "product lines" will not result in their disbanding their criminal organizations.
- The United States has been clear that we cannot arrest our way out of the drug problem. In August 2010, the President signed the fair sentencing act which reduces the disparity in the amounts of powder cocaine and crack cocaine required for the imposition of mandatory minimum sentences and eliminates the mandatory minimum sentence for simple possession of crack cocaine.