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Kerilkowske Signals ‘A New Direction in Drug Policy’

Mike’s reported on the White House’s shift away from a “war on drugs” mentality toward an increased focus on prevention and treatment. Today, National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske emphasized that shift in testimony to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s subpanel on domestic policy.

From a press release sent along by the Office of National Drug Control Policy:

National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske said today “a new direction in drug policy” is required to reduce the strain on the Nation’s economy caused by drug abuse and to improve the public health and safety of our citizens.

Testifying before the Subcommittee on Domestic Policy of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Director Kerlikowske outlined national drug control priorities and the Fiscal Year 2011 National Drug Control Budget, noting that the Obama Administration approach to drug policy is “grounded in common sense, sound science, and practical experience.”

With drug use accounting for tens of billions of dollars per year in healthcare costs, and drug overdoses ranking second only to motor vehicle crashes as the leading cause of accidental death, the Nation “needs to discard the idea that enforcement alone can eliminate our Nation’s drug problem,” Director Kerlikowske said. “Only through a comprehensive and balanced approach – combining tough, but fair, enforcement with robust prevention and treatment efforts – will we be successful in stemming both the demand for and supply of illegal drugs in our country.

“The forthcoming National Drug Control Strategy calls for addressing our Nation’s enormous demand for drugs by scaling up our public health policy response, integrating treatment programs into mainstream medicine, and recognizing that effective drug policy requires engagement at the community level,” Director Kerlikowske said.

He also noted that ONDCP would continue to work to “break down the silos between the prevention, treatment, and law enforcement communities– and the greatest use must be made of the finite resources at our disposal.”

The President’s $15.5 billion Fiscal Year 2011 National Drug Control Budget lays the foundation for these efforts and provides resources for five major drug control functions: substance abuse prevention; substance abuse treatment, domestic law enforcement, interdiction, and international support. The budget request specifically calls for an increase of $521.1 million over the FY 2010 enacted level, and includes a 6.5 percent increase for prevention and treatment; an increase of $73.8 million for Federal interdiction efforts; and an increase of $20.1 million for international support.

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