I’ve never had much patience with the idea that the national drug control budget gives too much to enforcement and not enough to treatment. There ain’t no such thing as a national drug control budget: that’s not how the budget process works. And it would be more accurate to say that the national law enforcement budget (about $150 billion per year) is overweighted (about 20%) toward drugs, while the national health care effort (ten times the size, at $1.5 trillion per year) is underallocated (about 1/2 of 1%) to substance abuse treatment.
Still, lots of people are sold on the “imbalanced drug budget” idea. There’s not really a lot that the Drug Czar can do about it, given the way budget decisions actually get made in Washington.
Or so I thought. That just shows why John Walters is Autocrat of All the Drugs and I’m not. By simply not counting the costs of imprisoning drug dealers — which have risen, due to tougher sentencing laws, to the point where we spend more money each year locking up past dealers than chasing current dealers — the new National Drug Control Strategy makes the enforcement effort look smaller. Now that’s what I call an elegant solution to an intractable problem.