NewsBriefs BUTTONS

President Issues 1996 Drug Control Strategy


May 1996

On April 29 in Coral Gables, Florida, President Clinton released the 1996 National Drug Control Strategy, asking Congress for $15.1 billion for anti-drug programs in the next fiscal year (FY 1997). He released the report at a middle school, accompanied by Attorney General Janet Reno, Secretary of the Treasury Robert Rubin, and Office of National Drug Control Policy Director General Barry McCaffrey.

The report, which is released every year, requests anti-drug funding from Congress and outlines the goals of the nation's drug policy. The Strategy also serves as a focus for the more than 50 agencies involved in drug control activity.

Funding. The Strategy requests a total of $15.1 billion for drug control efforts for the FY 1997 budget, up from last year's request of $14.6 billion. Of the money requested for FY 1997, $10.1 billion (67%) would go to supply reduction programs and $5.0 billion (33%) would go to demand reduction.

Supply/Demand Funding Proportions
in National Drug Control Strategy
Actual FY 1995 Estimated FY 1996 Requested FY 1997


$13.3 billion $13.8 billion $15.1 billion

Supply %

$8.6 billion
$9.2 billion
$10.1 billion

Demand %

$4.7 billion
$4.6 billion
$5.0 billion
Source: Office of National Drug Control Policy, "National Drug Control Strategy," April 1996, p. 59. Numbers may not total due to rounding.

Of the total requested budget, $7.8 billion would go to the criminal justice system, an increase of $685 million over the estimated allocation for FY 1996. $2.9 billion is requested for drug treatment, and $1.6 billion for drug prevention. The FY 1996 request for international efforts is $400.5 million, a 25.4% increase over FY 1996 estimated allocations. The FY 1997 request for interdiction is $1.4 billion, a 7.3% increase over last year's estimated allocations. The report requests increases in all program areas except research, which would lose 10.4 million from 1996 estimated allocations.

Drug Control Spending By Function (in Millions)
Drug Function Actual
FY 1995
Estimated FY 1996 Requested FY 1997 FY 96-FY 97 Change
Criminal Justice System 6,545.4 7,105.1 7,790.5 685.4 (9.6%)
Drug Treatment 2,692.0 2,679.4 2,908.7 229.3 (8.6)
Drug Prevention 1,559.1 1,430.1 1,591.6 161.5 (11.3%)
International 295.8 319.5 400.5 81.0 (25.4%)
Interdiction 1,280.1 1,339.4 1,437.2 97.8 (7.3%)
Research 542.2 569.6 559.2 -10.4 (-1.8%)
Intelligence 336.6 340.4 375.9 35.4 (10.4%)


Four-Way Split




1,280.0 (9.3%)

Demand Reduction % 4,691.9
398.7 (8.7%)
Domestic Law Enforcement % 6,983.3
702.5 (9.3%)
International % 295.8
81.0 (25.4%)
Interdiction % 1,280.1
97.8 (7.3%)





1,280.0 (9.3%)

Source: Office of National Drug Control Policy, "National Drug Control Strategy," April 1996, p. 67. Numbers may not total due to rounding.

At a press conference releasing the Strategy, General McCaffrey said he hopes to change the funding and budget structure of the National Drug Control Strategy in the future. He said he would prefer a system where a 10-year Strategy is agreed upon and followed over that time frame with annual accountability hearings before a Congressional committee.

Goals. "The National Drug Control Strategy is designed to prevent a new drug use epidemic through an aggressive and comprehensive full-court press that harnesses the energies of committed individuals from every sector of our society," Clinton said in a statement to Congress. The new Strategy presents five goals of the nation's drug policy designed to reduce drug use and the costs and consequences of drug use. In the process of meeting each of the goals, the report sets smaller objectives to be met.

  1. Motivate America's youth to reject illegal drugs and substance abuse.

    Objectives: Increase the number of State governments and community organizations participating in the development of national prevention standards and a national prevention infrastructure. Increase the number of schools with comprehensive drug prevention and early intervention strategies with a focus on family involvement. Increase the number of community drug coalitions through a focus on the need for public support of local drug prevention empowerment efforts. Increase, through public education, the public's awareness of the consequences of illicit drug use and the use of alcohol and tobacco by underage populations. Reverse the upward trend in marijuana use among young people and raise the average age of initial users of all illicit drugs.

  2. Increase the safety of America's citizens by substantially reducing drug-related crime and violence.

    Objectives: Increase the effectiveness of local police through the implementation of community and problem-oriented policing with a focus on youth and gang violence, drug-related homicides, and domestic violence. Break the cycle of drug abuse and crime by integrating drug testing, court-authorized graduated sanctions, treatment, offender tracking and rehabilitation, and aftercare through drug courts and other offender management programs, prison rehabilitation and education, and supervised transition to the community. Increase the effectiveness of Federal, State, and local law enforcement task forces that target all levels of trafficking to reduce the flow of drugs to neighborhoods and make our streets safe for the public. Improve the efficiency of Federal drug law enforcement investigative and intelligence programs to apprehend drug traffickers, seize their drugs, and forfeit their assets. Increase the number of schools that are free of drugs and violence.

  3. Reduce the health, welfare, and crime costs resulting from illegal drug use.

    Objectives: Increase treatment efficiency and effectiveness. Use effective outreach, referral, and case management efforts to facilitate early access to treatment. Reduce the spread of infectious diseases and other illnesses related to drug use. Expand and enhance drug education and prevention strategies in the workplace.

  4. Shield America's air, land, and sea frontiers from the drug threat.

    Objectives: Identify and implement options, including science and technology options, to improve the effectiveness of law enforcement to stop the flow of drugs into the United States, especially along the Southwest Border. Lead efforts to develop stronger bilateral and multilateral intelligence sharing to thwart the use of international commercial air, maritime, and land cargo shipments for smuggling. Conduct flexible interdiction in the transit zone to ensure effective use of maritime and aerial interdiction capabilities.

  5. Break foreign and domestic drug sources of supply.

    Objectives: Destroy major trafficking organizations by arresting, convicting, and incarcerating their leaders and top associates, and seizing their drugs and assets. Reduce the foreign availability of drugs through eradication and other programs that reduce drug crop cultivation and through enforcement efforts to attack chemical, money laundering, and transportation networks that support trafficking organizations. Reduce all domestic drug production and availability and continue to target for investigation and prosecution those who illegally divert pharmaceuticals and listed chemicals. Increase the political will of countries to cooperate with the United States on drug control efforts through aggressive diplomacy, certification, and carefully targeted foreign assistance. Strengthen host nation institutions so that they can conduct more effective drug control efforts on their own and withstand the threat that narcotics trafficking poses to sovereignty, democracy, and free-market economies. In the source countries, aggressively support the full range of host nation interdiction efforts by providing training and operational support. Make greater use of multilateral organizations to share the burdens and costs of international narcotics control to complement the efforts of the United States and to institute programs where the United States has limited or no access.

The Strategy emphasizes that progress in each of these five areas will be measurable through various reports: the National Household Survey, the Monitoring the Future Survey, the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) report on drug admissions to emergency rooms, the Drug Use Forecasting report of drug positive tests of arrestees, and estimates of cultivation, importation, and prices of illegal drugs. Past Drug Control Strategy reports have been criticized for setting unmeasurable and unrealistic yearly goals.

The goals are substantially different from the goals in previous reports. Last year's report listed four goals -- empowering communities, drug treatment and prevention, reducing chronic, hardcore drug use through treatment, and increasing source country program effectiveness. The 1994 Strategy listed the same goals in a slightly different order.

The Strategy makes note of a number of other current and emerging drug abuse problems, especially abuse of marijuana, heroin, Rohypnol®, PCP, and LSD.

Methamphetamine Strategy. The President released a separate strategy for dealing with methamphetamine abuse. The report advocates that Congress raise the penalties for methamphetamine offenses to the current penalty levels for crack cocaine -- five years in prison for five grams of a mixture or substance containing the drug and ten years for 50 grams. Under current laws, there is a 10-year mandatory sentence for trafficking in 100 grams of the pure substance or 1,000 grams of a mixture or substance containing methamphetamine and a 5-year sentence for trafficking in 10 pure grams or 100 grams of methamphetamine mixture.

The report also asks that Congress increase penalties for trafficking in precursor materials and urges better training of investigators to find methamphetamine laboratories. International proposals for dealing with the methamphetamine problem include working more closely with Mexico to curb trafficking of the drug across the U.S. Southwest border and fostering international communication about diversion of precursor materials.

A bill now pending in Congress would increase the penalties for trafficking in methamphetamine precursor materials.

FY 1996 Supplemental Funding. On April 12, President Clinton sent a $250 million supplemental budget request to Congress for ONDCP funding (for background, see "Clinton Seeks Increase in ONDCP Staff and Funding," NewsBriefs, April 1996, p. 15). The request was denied in the final 1996 Appropriations bill signed by Clinton on April 26. In a statement released after the signing, Clinton said he was disappointed that Congress disapproved the request, but noted that members of the conference committee promised to increase anti-drug funds in the FY 1997 budget.

The request was a reprogramming of Department of Defense funds. It included an additional $202 million for supply reduction activities and $48 million for demand reduction. Of the total, the Department of Defense would have received $132 million ($98 million for modifications on two Navy P-3B aircraft for the Customs Service, $15 million for source country radar, and other funds for interdiction and eradication programs).

$20.4 million was earmarked for the State Department for interdiction river craft, planes, and aviation support. The U.S. Coast Guard would have received $14.6 million and the Customs Service $7 million for source nation and transit zone interdiction. The Drug Enforcement Administration would have received $18 million for methamphetamine and marijuana control and other programs.

For its own programs, ONDCP had asked for $15.75 million to launch a youth awareness campaign, $16.6 for drug testing and treatment of offenders, $4.9 million for the development of a cocaine vaccine, and other funds.

Gallup Poll. On May 1, General McCaffrey released the results of a Gallup poll commissioned by ONDCP showing support for the goals of the new Strategy. When asked what the most important problem facing the nation is, respondents most often said crime and violence, followed by the drug problem. Without prompting, 11% of respondents said the drug problem was the most important problem facing the nation. 19% mentioned the drug problem in the top three problems facing the nation. (16% of respondents said crime and violence was the most important problem, and 27% mentioned it in the top three problems.)

The proportion of African Americans and other minorities reporting that the drug problem is one of the most important problems facing the nation was higher than the proportion of whites. 26% of African Americans and 26% of other minorities reported the drug problem in the top three responses. 18% of whites mentioned it in the top three.

When asked what the most effective strategy for dealing with the drug problem is, respondents most often said stopping drugs from coming into the United States (31%), followed by drug education about the dangers of drug use (28%), police action and criminal prosecution of dealers (22%), increasing the availability of treatment (9%), police action and criminal prosecution of users (6%), and building more jails (2%).

42% of respondents said it is the responsibility of each individual to stop illegal drug use. 22% said it is the responsibility of police, 10% said families or parents, and 6% said the federal government.

82% of respondents said it was extremely important to spend tax dollars on reducing drug use among youth. That response was second only to spending for reducing violent crime (84%), and was followed by increasing educational opportunities for youth (82%), providing health care (66%), reducing drunk driving (63%), reducing adult drug use (57%), and reducing unemployment (55%).

Respondents asked what concerned them about the effects of drug use said they were concerned about the crime and violence associated with drug use (29%), followed by concern for children (28%), the availability of drugs (12%), and the effect that drugs have on people (12%). When asked what drug is the most serious problem in the country, 54% said crack cocaine (67% of African Americans reported that crack cocaine was the biggest problem). The next most-reported drug was powder cocaine (7%), followed by marijuana (6%), and heroin (4%).

Respondents were asked if they agree with the following statements:

The poll questioned 2,016 adults over age 18.

[The five goals of this strategy will have much more popular appeal than the 14 goals developed by Dr. Lee Brown. The first three goals are indisputable, but the rhetorical goals, numbers 4 and 5, are unachievable. The key feature of Dr. Brown's strategy -- treatment of hard-core addicts -- is diminished and appears to be recast as primarily corrections-based treatment. SAMHSA actually gets cut in this budget. One objective is to reduce infectious diseases such as AIDS, but the strategy doesn't mention sterile needle exchange.

At the National Press Club on May 1, Gen. McCaffrey cited Gen. Colin Powell for the advice that in judging policy, look not at the language but at the figures. On that advice, the new strategy is a retreat from a cost-effective treatment-oriented approach, and signals a return to wasteful, non-cost effective, international and interdiction programs. (The Peter Rydell-Susan Everingham study by RAND conducted for ONDCP and the U.S. Army in 1994 found that to reduce cocaine consumption by 1% of current annual consumption would cost $783 million by source country control, $366 million by interdiction, $246 million by domestic enforcement, or $34 million by treatment (Controlling Cocaine: Supply Versus Demand Programs, p. xiii). The bottom line on this strategy is that it is a well-executed election year political riposte to Republican congressional leaders such as Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT), who have blasted President Clinton for not spending more on interdiction, and as "AWOL" -- absent without leadership -- in the "war on drugs."--EES]

[To obtain a copy of the Strategy, contact the Drugs and Crime Data Center and Clearinghouse, 1600 Research Boulevard, Rockville, MD 20850, 1-800-666-3332. Statements of Clinton and General McCaffrey about the Strategy can be found at the White House Web site at If you do not have access to the Web, contact the NewsBriefs office for a copy. For more information about the supplemental request, contact the NewsBriefs office for a copy of the request and a funding summary prepared by the National Drug Strategy Network.]