Government Accountability Office Says The Drug War Isn’t Working; Did Anybody Think It Was?

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director April 26, 2013

    The federal government’s anti-drug efforts are inefficient and ineffective, according to a just released report issued by the Congressional watchdog agency, the US Government Accountability Office (GAO).

    As if we didn’t know.

    The GAO report assessed whether the Obama administration’s anti-drug strategies, as articulated by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (the ONDCP aka the Drug Czar’s office) in its 2010 National Drug Control Strategy report, have yet to achieve its stated goals.

    The answer? They haven’t.

    States the GAO:

    “The public health, social, and economic consequences of illicit drug use, coupled with the constrained fiscal environment of recent years, highlight the need to ensure that federal programs efficiently and effectively use their resources to address this problem. ONDCP has developed a 5-year Strategy to reduce illicit drug use and its consequences, but our analysis shows lack of progress toward achieving four of the Strategy’s five goals for which primary data are available.”

    In particular, the GAO criticized the administration for failing to adequately address rising levels of youth marijuana consumption. The GAO also rebuffed the ONDCP’s allegation that increased rates adolescent marijuana use are a result of the passage of statewide laws decriminalizing the plant or allowing for its therapeutic use.

    “Other factors, including state laws and changing attitudes and social norms regarding drugs, may also affect drug use. We examined studies on three of these other factors, which we refer to as societal factors, which may affect youth marijuana use. … The studies that assessed the effect of medical marijuana laws that met our review criteria found mixed results on effects of the laws on youth marijuana use. … [S]tudies that assessed the effect of marijuana decriminalization that met our review criteria found little to no effect of the laws on youth marijuana use.”

    You can read the full GAO report here.

    28 responses to “Government Accountability Office Says The Drug War Isn’t Working; Did Anybody Think It Was?”

    1. Luke says:

      Good article, but the GAO’s new name is actually the Government Accountability Office.

      Glad we’re finally making some headway in this country regarding these Draconian drug policies.

    2. Mr. Sandman says:

      I wish they’d stop calling it a drug already…

    3. Sepehr Nick Samadani says:

      You cannot declare war on a chemical substance–the world of chemistry does not allow that. Might as well accept the fact that just like a pregnant woman can have an abortion based on the fact that it’s her body, so should anyone be able to ingest any substance. We can never regulate the amount and type of chemicals that people plan to ingest. Admit that alcohol and tobacco are the main culprits and change the scheduling.

    4. Julian says:

      Let’s get to the root of the herb here.
      Cops shouldnt write law.
      Lets end the DEA’s unconstitutional authority to legislate marijuana.

    5. Vicky says:

      I’m DYING to know WHY the DEA is WASTING precious resources raiding/busting LEGAL dispensaries and co-ops in San Diego county? Good luck finding a LEGAL source of MMJ anymore, because they’ve virtually shut them all down… pathetic.

      Actually, I KNOW why… because the DA’s office is in bed with the DEA, and they’re REALLY enjoying their relationship… despite State law and the will of the People! I’m SO tired of it and SO pissed… something needs to change.

    6. Douglas says:

      I feel for the person who deliver this news. U know they are going to lose there job or as they will move them down the ladder.Like the F.D.A If a person say let test this drug they are in big trobule

    7. Obvious says:


    8. Fireweed says:

      So teens are increasing mj use and decreasing use of other drugs? Another study indicates that marijuana use has little/no lasting effects on the adolescent brain? (I started smoking at 15 and graduated high school with 3 foreign languages in my head). (I also smoked my way through grad school and wz recommended by my advisor for a scholarship and described as a “strong student” and graduated with a 3.67-so not a 4.0 but how much better did I need it to be?) Another study out there found that long term mj smokers tend to be thinner and more physically active (I’m 55 now and exercise 5-6 days a week b/c it’s FUN). Alcohol use can lead to fights but have you ever heard of a stoner brawl? Much of our pop culture-jazz-can be tied to mj use. Seems to me that cannabis use is almost desireable.

    9. ben says:

      The only thing politics listens to money and the fear of not getting reelected . Why would another shafier report change any thing . Here is whats gonna happen…..nothing . We will be ignored yet again . Its about as unlikly as the korean unicorn.

    10. Brian says:

      Have to say, I would think the rising youth use is more due to the accepatibility of bud in the mainstream these days. I can think of at least 4 major network shows where at least one major character is a smoker, and thats without touching the premium channels, or even cable networks. Its being (rightfully) placed on near the level of acceptibility as beer as a recreational intoxicant, with of course just enough edginess to get the ratings provided by its still widely illicit status. After all, when a show a huge number of teens watch tells them everything is better with a bag of weed, what are they supposed to think? Of course kids being their pesky selves would smoke ganja even if it wasnt being portrayed so casually by the media. After all that I hope no one thinks Im one of those people who blame the media for everything our kids do wrong, because Im not about to go on a rant about Marylin Manson making you pull off a school shooting or Zeppelin backmasking messages, I promise! Just saying I think its a factor.