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Who Funds Prohibition?

Get the PDF Version of this DocumentDrug Use, Drug Spending - What is the Correlation

"When I say our hard work, I mean parents and community coalitions, educators, ministers.  When people get engaged with adolescents, drug use goes down" - General Barry McCaffrey, December 21, 1997

"Three times as many 14-year olds are doing drugs as they were when Bill Clinton was sworn in" - former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, August 1, 1996

"There is a carefully camouflaged, exorbitantly funded, well-heeled elitist group whose ultimate goal is to legalize drug use in the United States" - Drug Czar General Barry McCaffrey, June 17, 1998, testifying before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary

The preceding statements represent three very provocative, popular but ultimately deeply inaccurate misconceptions about drug policy in the United States: when money is spent on anti-drug efforts, drug use goes down; lack of money spent on anti-drug efforts in the 1990s has led to increases in drug use; drug reform groups are rich, secret organizations.

But let us examine the claims based on the evidence. First we will examine drug use rates among twelfth-graders from 1986 to the present.

Marijuana: Trends in Annual Prevalence, Perceived Risk, and Disapproval
(source: www.monitoringthefuture.org)

Long-Term Trends in use of Marijuana/Hashish for Twelfth Graders
(source: The Monitoring the Future Study, the University of Michigan)

Age-specific Rates of First Time Use of Marijuana: 1965-1997
(source:Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration)

From a high rate of usage in 1979, the use rates fell steadily throughout the ‘80s until they bottomed out in approximately 1991. Then they began to rise yet again. Daily use of marijuana/hashish among twelfth graders tripled from 1991 to 2000, while annual use nearly doubled.

But according to General McCaffrey, drug use rates would decrease with added spending. With increased levels of drug use, lower levels of funding and community involvement would have to be at the root of the problem.

According to the data, that is not the case. 

Private Monies Donated to "Anti-Drug" Organizations

From 1986 to 1992, as community anti-drug spending grew, drug use rates plunged. But in 1992 drug use rates reversed direction, and for the first time in over a decade, went up. That same year, those private money donations exploded, nearly doubling in a single year. Anti-drug spending bursts, yet drug use grows: how can this be?

But what happened to federal spending on the drug war? That funding must have dropped during those years of increased use. Again, the facts indicate otherwise.

National Drug Control Budget by Function, FY 1991-2001 (Budget Authority in Millions)
(source: Office of National Drug Control Policy)

Marijuana: Trends in Perceived Availability, Perceived Risk of Regular Use, and Prevalence in Past Thirty Days for Twelfth Graders
(source: www.monitoringthefuture.org)

Marijuana and Hashish Use
(source:Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration)

The National Drug Control Budget for national and international law enforcement has risen dramatically from 1991 to 2000, surging 68% in ten years, from under $11 billion to nearly $18.5 billion. The separate demand reduction allocation similarly swelled 61% from $3.7 billion to nearly $6 billion. Nevertheless, marijuana use among twelfth graders rose even more dramatically, more than doubling between 1992 and 1997. Clearly, there is no correlation between anti-drug spending, both federal and private, and drug use.

Furthermore, though General McCaffrey labels the drug reform movement as "carefully camouflaged", he does not mention that the leading sponsors of the anti-drug movement are scarcely revealed. Few know that the companies from which they purchase products, or whose stock they own, also fund these pro-drug war organizations.

And he certainly fails to include the budgets of pro-Drug War groups when lambasting the size of the supposedly formidable anti-drug organizations.

These figures are quite minute compared to the considerable assets of the prohibitionist side. The budget of NORML and its sister NORML Foundation, from 1980 to 1999, has never exceeded $750,000. NORML has no endowments and the NORML Foundation received its first $1 million matching grant just this year. For the past several years, the Soros backed Lindesmith Center and Drug Policy Foundation have worked within the $5 -7 million neighborhood to fund harm reduction and drug policy reform, needle exchange grants and OSI grants to numerous organizations. Compare this to the nearly $40 million private pro-Drug War groups had at their disposal and the sharp rhetoric falls flat.

Further, the lack of adequate funding appears to be the major reason behind the supposed "carefully camouflaged" claim of General McCaffrey. There would be little secrecy to this movement, if not for the lack of financial support. As public policy groups intent on influencing public opinion, secrecy would be the least desirable quality to maintain.

Moreover, the major donors to the drug reform movement, New York financier George Soros, insurance magnate Peter Lewis and educator-entrepreneur John Sperling, are open about their support of the issue. The media, the Congress as well as Mr. McCaffrey have highlighted Mr. Soros as a supporter of changes to drug policy on numerous occasions.

In clear comparison, it is obvious that the drug reform movement is badly overmatched in a struggle of truly David and Goliath proportions. But the girth and strength of the prohibitionists is nonetheless hardly enough to keep teen drug use rates down, let alone stable. It is clear that increases in funding have had no discernable effect on use rates. And the current Ad campaign of $1 billion over five years will have the same lack of effect.

 

Group

86

87

88

89

90

           
MISC

482,148

1,852,466

1,983,785

3,310,586

4,194,662

AARR        

151,000

CADA      

255,080

255,833

California

456,980

2,656,478

379,113

853,952

6,341,593

Colorado

71,650

115,000

9,300

165,000

50,000

Cenikor

27,500

41,000

121,000

105,000

115,000

DARE

56,347

52,500

5,000

720,725

530,666

Washington, DC  

130,000

100,000

97,500

149,983

Daytop

35,500

275,000

15,000

160,000

125,000

Drugs Don’t Work        

25,000

Gateway

165,000

90,500

305,000

310,500

40,000

Illinois

15,000

   

92,000

106,000

Massachusetts

59,333

268,323

394,333

355,750

190,550

Michigan

12,000

26,750

156,500

414,020

884,760

North Carolina

5,000

52,134

94,190

122,290

258,943

New Jersey

25,000

79,000

6,000

209,500

360,498

New York

659,500

441,411

355,680

521,046

1,037,541

Ohio

30,600

136,376

106,746

105,175

126,000

Pennsylvania

49,085

151,000

459,000

302,000

165,000

Partnership  

45,000

47,000

1,230,000

2,650,000

Phoenix

210,000

618,000

285,000

530,050

95,000

Texas

210,000

560,066

435,000

649,650

921,952

Youth Power

125,000

60,000

250,000

10,000

 
           
Total

2,695,643

7,651,004

5,507,647

10,519,824

18,774,981

 

Group

91

92

93

94

95

96

97 98*
                 
MISC

5,152,271

11,910,081

5,585,341

7,834,781

6,900,919

5,811,889

4,168,872 7,302,320
AARR

320,000

40,000

455,000

395,242

205,242

     
CADA

423,612

507,612

348,612

30,000

25,000

     
CADCA  

601,667

351,667

366,667

1,475,000

1,849,067

1,300,000 2,385,459
California

1,443,549

3,004,208

7,499,208

5,815,255

4,592,148

4,638,220

2,058,295 1,442,169
CASA

160,000

4,553,794

6,031,493

5,887,522

3,814,689

4,552,864

930,000 7,378,735
Colorado

42,500

457,236

372,635

590,942

785,517

1,071,009

128,614 564,349
Cenikor

86,300

70,200

255,000

121,600

127,600

585,000

235,000  
DARE

583,658

421,000

378,000

604,657

552,000

218,500

312,500 110,000
Washington, DC

130,000

619,916

1,193,600

1,312,763

959,905

494,522

268,612 343,242
Daytop

570,000

408,000

130,000

361,000

85,000

115,000

107,000 10,000
Drugs Don’t Work

87,500

110,000

35,000

440,000

415,000

59,500

43,000 10,000
Gateway

40,000

79,500

100,000

40,000

99,000

89,000

85,000 40,000
Illinois

30,000

412,146

292,198

300,000

250,000

829,800

160,000 66,667
Massachusetts

1,511,424

4,126,077

3,333,683

3,570,748

4,813,907

4,582,800

3,684,671 1,186,082
Michigan

927,353

389,210

4,858,061

1,077,523

1,291,142

808,288

570,632 359,451
NCADD

103,000

145,000

155,350

120,000

122,500

210,000

140,000 234,000
North Carolina

559,002

292,684

837,825

1,581,837

41,000

1,245,133

632,193 840,903
New Jersey

259,998

1,239,971

1,169,847

896,743

1,048,599

1,296,513

571,108 571,108
New York

2,217,284

2,227,223

1,880,929

2,438,698

2,078,353

2,081,557

1,100,427 1,694,367
Ohio

122,000

280,858

100,528

258,290

101,564

160,000

203,800 317,500
Pennsylvania

220,000

100,000

499,635

166,500

429,137

402,636

161,551 95,000
Partnership

2,760,000

2,690,000

2,945,000

3,632,500

3,280,000

4,204,845

4,074,845 3,619,845
Phoenix

1,027,000

224,000

495,000

306,313

775,000

675,000

976,000 516,770
Texas

733,077

490,848

1,389,869

1,003,181

856,646

991,325

1,018,091 1,872,264
Youth Power    

100,000

252,145

128,500

184,000

  106,775
                 
Total

19,509,528

35,401,231

40,793,481

39,404,877

35,333,368

37,156,468

22,930,211 31,067,006


The above are figures for private funding to anti-drug and pro-drug war groups for educational, preventive and informational campaigns between 1986 and 1996. Only includes contributions above $5,000.
Includes funding to treatment organizations, like Daytop, Cenikor, Gateway, Phoenix House, because of their involvement in promoting anti-drug policies.

* 1998 incomplete year - not all statistics are available yet