Drug Policy

Obama's New Drug Control Report Calls for More Workplace Drug Testing, Nationwide Zero Tolerance Laws, Prescription-Only Ephedrine Products, and the Return of the "Above the Influence" Campaign


The first thing you should know about President Barack Obama's 2012 Drug Control Strategy report is that it begins and ends with the declaration that the war on drugs is working and will continue apace. 

Obama administration policies have "yielded significant results," according to the President's introductory letter, which concludes by saying, "While difficult budget decisions must be made at all levels of government, we must ensure continued support for policies and programs that reduce drug use and its enormous costs to American society."

The report ends with a familiar refrain: "Legalization of drugs will not be considered in this approach. Making drugs more available and more accessible will not reduce drug use and its adverse consequences for public health and safety. We will continue to educate young
people and all Americans about the science on the harmful health effects of marijuana use."

The pages in between those two statements contain a broad outline for increased drug enforcement, mandatory rehabilitation programs for people who don't need or want them, and the return of melodramatic Reefer Madness-style agitprop aimed at teenagers.

The worst policy plans contained in the report are outlined after the jump.

 – The report implicitly blames the debate over drug reform—one Obama recently told Univision he's more than willing to hear—for increased use of drugs by teens:

One possible influence on this observed trend in drug use and perception of risk is the decreased exposure of youth to prevention messages and the presence of messages and policies that downplay the consequences of drug use. While the Administration supports ongoing research into determining what components of the marijuana plant can be used as medicine, to date, neither the FDA nor the Institute of Medicine has found the marijuana plant itself to meet the modern standard for safe or effective medicine for any condition. The Administration also recognizes that legalizing marijuana would not provide the answer to any of the health, social, youth education, criminal justice, and community quality of life challenges associated with drug use.

—The report encourages carte blanche workplace drug testing, on the grounds that it will curtail productivity losses associated with drug use and improve users' lives. It also describes the Obama administration's attempt to develop on oral test for workplace drug testing:

In addition to the youth programs mentioned previously, as our young people enter the workplace and others remain engaged in workforce, it is important to ensure a drug-free workplace. The consequences of illicit drug use in America's workforce include job-related accidents and injuries, absenteeism, health care costs, and lost productivity.

Workplace programs that provide clear policies regarding drug use; offer prevention and education opportunities for employers and supervisors; conduct drug testing to detect and deter use; and support referral and treatment for those who have substance use disorders can play a large role in reducing the demand for drugs throughout our Nation and in helping drug users get into treatment.

These programs provide employees with the opportunity to self-identify and get help. Often, such programs give employees an opportunity to return to the same job, or a similar job in the same industry, thereby creating an incentive to succeed in their recovery and resume a fulfilling career. Consequently, drug-free workplace programs are beneficial for our labor force, employers, families, and communities in general.

In 2011, the Administration committed to funding for the scientific determination for oral fluids testing as a complement to urine testing.  HHS published a Federal Register notice requesting public comment on the scientific basis for oral fluid testing . HHS is moving forward to set standards for oral fluid testing that will be published in the future for public comment before they can be finalized in the Mandatory Guidelines for Drug Workplace Testing.  These Guidelines will also be available for state and local jurisdictions to apply as appropriate for the prosecution of drugged driving violations, and to encourage the drug testing industry to develop accurate point-of-collection oral fluid testing devices.

—The report contains a request to Congress for $20 million to Revamp and Reenergize the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, which was defunded by Congress last year because it doesn't work:

Since 2005, there has been a significant public investment in developing the widely-recognized "Above the Influence" (ATI) brand, a campaign that has been found by independent scientific analyses to be effective, relevant to youth, and instrumental to drug prevention efforts in communities across the country. Unfortunately, despite evidence of its effectiveness, Congress appropriated no funding for the Media Campaign in Fiscal Year (FY) 2012, and the campaign is now operating on a minimal budget composed of its unobligated balances as the Youth Drug Prevention Media Program.

The report also calls for a nationwide zero tolerance policy for "drugged driving," which would mean all drivers would be subjected to laws that currently affect only commercial drivers:

The Administration encourages states to pursue enhanced legal responses, such as per se (or "zero tolerance") laws. Seventeen states already have per se statutes, and additional states should consider adopting these standards. These same standards have been applied to 12 million commercial drivers in the United States for the past two decades. The Administration has developed educational packets for states, providing them with information on the dangers of drugged driving and why per se laws are beneficial.

—The report also says that "Several options are being considered to further reduce methamphetamine production including prescription-only status for pseudoephedrine/ephedrine products."

The Marijuana Policy Project's Rob Kampia has called the report "appalling," adding, "The drug czar is trying to resurrect those stupid TV ads, like the one where a teenager gets his fist stuck in his mouth. The budget intentionally undercounts the federal government's expenditures on incarcerating drug offenders, who comprise more than half of the federal prison population. And the budget dangerously proposes a massive escalation in using the military to fight drugs domestically. Congress should just ignore this budget and start from scratch. Specifically, Congress should not provide the Obama administration with any money to go after nonviolent marijuana users, growers, or distributors."

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition also attacked the report.

"President Obama keeps saying he is open to a discussion but he never seems willing to actually have that discussion," said LEAP Director Neil Franklin said in a press release. "Polls show that three out of four U.S. voters think the 'war on drugs' is a failure and a majority now support marijuana legalization. The time for real change is now, but at the Summit of the Americas President Obama announced more than $130 million in aid to fund the continued effort to arrest drug traffickers in Latin America. This prohibition strategy hasn't worked in the past and it cannot work in the future. Latin American leaders know it, and President Obama must know it. Let's stop the charade and begin to bring drugs under control through legalization."

Former ONDCP senior advisor Kevin Sabet, meanwhile, is doing promotion for the report, which he refers to as "Wake Up and Grow Up." In anticipating criticism of the report, Sabet writes, "The 2012 release is likely to be attacked by those who are waiting for the day the President will make a U-turn and support legalization—but attackers will unfortunately miss the nuance and striking clarity which characterizes this particular document and its connection with the first Strategy." Fun fact: Sabet wrote the first strategy! 

More Reason on Obama's drug policies, including investments in police violence, the myth that the president's policies are "compassionate" and Jacob Sullum's must-read feature on how Obama turned out to be just another drug warrior.  

NEXT: The Unsavory Alliance of Big Government and Big Pig

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  1. Get high on power, not drugs.

  2. PUF DMT.

  3. So Obama is surpassing Bush II on the drug war front, and going for Reagan levels of MOAR DRUGZ WAR.

    Hey TEAM BLUE, how do you feel about that? You going to vote for your buddy Obama again? You fucking sheep.

    1. You just don’t understand, Epi. It was different then.

    2. Epi, they have no problem trading everyone’s freedom for security.

      1. Of course they will. Barry could fuck a kitten in the ass on live television, and Team Blue would shrug and mutter about how Kittehkins must have been owned by a Republican, so it’s all for The Cause.

        1. I can see the LOLCat meme now.

          1. The NSFW LOLCat.

            SugarFree powers, go!

            1. SugarFree powers, go!

              Wouldn’t it be the awesomest thing ever?! You are at your in-laws for dinner and they bring up gun or mj laws. You say “SugarFree powers, go” and The Man shows up and starts a monologue in his special way. A few minutes later, the in-laws are puking their guts out and you get to go home early!!

              1. That would be beyond cool.

    3. Hey TEAM BLUE, how do you feel about that?

      Obama has to do this to have credibility with conservative voters, but secretly he wants to legalize marijuana.

      You going to vote for your buddy Obama again?


      That answer your questions, Epi?

  4. But, man, like, I gotta vote for Obama again. Think about how much worse it’d be with those evil republicans, though, man. I mean, like, they’re the ones who really wanna tell you what to do. I heard that that Ron Paul dude wants to legislate my vagina. And I don’t even have a vagina, man. That’s some seriously freaky shit dude.

    1. Hands Off My Vagina!

      That protest sign has GOT to be made.

      1. If I can’t put my hands on your vagina, how the hell am I supposed to stuff all these taxpayers’ dollars into it?

        Salad tongs?

  5. It seems clear that Obama just wants more power for the federal government and Republicans are going for Romney (not Paul) so I will be voting for Johnson who wants to cut the federal government.

    1. A vote for Johnson is a vote for your johnson!

      1. Vote Johnson! Not just another stiff!

  6. I hope Obama still does the blow. I hope the next time he snorts he bursts a blood vessel in his eye that blinds him. I hope it becomes a national embarrassment we richly deserve for not vetting the heap of shit for the office in the first place.

    1. Oh, and the things his supporters HOPED for were not pure malevolence against the productive? It most certainly was and too a much greater degree than that I wish for one hypocritical individual.

  7. Is getting your fist stuck in your mouth an example of bad Fist Etiquette?

  8. Any minute now Tony and/or shrike will be around to tell us they were wrong about Obama…..

    1. The sun will set in the east before that happens, Nate.

    2. Since they’re sockpuppets and not real people, I doubt it.

      1. There’s a long history of tyrants dehumanizing people before destroying them. Had to add your whiny voice to the despot chorus, dincha?

        1. And you voted for Obama, mustard, so you’re part of the problem, not part of the solution.

          1. mustard is a sockpuppet too, dude. Oh noes, dehumanization!

            1. Yeah, but things were just getting back to whatever passes for normal around here, and now we have another fuckin’ sockpuppet shittin’ on the threads.

              Oh, and what’s with this “your post is invalid” shit?” Get those rocket surgeons to fix the squirrel infestation. Fuck.

  9. Lots of union jobs in the War On Drugs.

    1. And that’s where the rubber hits the road for team blue, an all out worship of unions and their leaders.

      End the WOD, we will need considerable less prisons and police, which will lower overall union membership.

      They don’t care if they serve a purposeful function, as long as they are paying union dues which get routed directly back to the Dems.

      1. And that’s where the rubber hits the road for team blue, an all out worship of unions and their leaders.

        End the WOD, we will need considerable less prisons and police, which will lower overall union membership.

        They don’t care if they serve a purposeful function, as long as they are paying union dues which get routed directly back to the Dems.


  10. That’s a long post to go with that 69 pg briefing. Can I just assume it’s a bunch of nonsense that will hurt us all and continue planning on not voting major party?

  11. Choom n the gang should have just kept play hoop.

  12. wow. obama turning out to be just as bad as we said he would be on the war on drugs.
    how utterly unshocking

  13. He needs to put forth this image so your palsy walsies in the GOP don’t run ads picturing him as a drug pushing mulatoo. After the election he’ll have more flexibility because he’ll be safe from challenges to his authority.

    1. So we have to re-elect him in order to find out if he was just unwilling (rather than unable) to do the right thing the first time around? “Don’t blame me for the results because I wasn’t really trying” is not the most inspiring re-election theme.

      Wouldn’t it be better to elect someone who does it right the first time around and has the ability to explain why it was the right thing to do? Is that too much to ask?

      1. So we have to re-elect him in order to find out if he was just unwilling (rather than unable) to do the right thing the first time around?

        Just another cynical implementation of the “Pelosi Protocol”!

    2. wow. so, obama has an excuse for being a statist thug, and it’s that the REPUBLICANS force him to act that way?


      1. Didn’t you get the memo?

        Anytime something goes wrong during this administration, anytime Obama makes a bad decision it is ALWAYS Bush’s fault.

        1. Obama is Bush’s fault.

          1. Well, McCain had something to do with it, too.

  14. Hey, everyone, mustard’s mom helped him create an account! Let’s give him the exact amount of respect and gratitude he deserves!

    Which would be none whatsoever.

  15. Ironically, yesterday I read this article in the Economist, http://www.economist.com/node/21552609, and was amused at how Ethan Nadelmann, the head of the Drug Policy Alliance, tries to convince himself that this really doesn’t reflect Obama’s policies, that the federal prosecutors pursuing medical marijuana producers are violating administration policy, and that Obama is just afraid to appear “weak on drugs” in an election year.

    1. Making excuses for these morons is how we got here in the first place.

      1. I call bullshit on this. Barry could send The Word down to back off, but he won’t… because there are lots of Drug Warriors in the Team Blue ranks.

        1. I don’t understand. Is making excuses for the morons not a problem? What are you saying?

    2. and that Obama is just afraid to appear “weak on drugs” in an election year.

      To Obama, every year is an election year.

  16. Ah, the specter of lost productivity. Isn’t it wonderful that people aren’t people, they’re Human Resources which exist for the furtherment of society’s goals?

    Think how much more music the Beatles could have made if they had never touched the demon weed or its nightmare laboratory cousin LSD.

    Dammit, we need single payer health care, otherwise our Human Resources might not perform at peak efficiency. Can any of us say we are doing our knee bends deep enough?

    1. Wintson Smith, getting yelled at by the nice exercise lady on the telescreen.

    2. I just keep wondering why, if the drug users cause so many problems in the workplace, we need body fluids to identify them. Why don’t employers just fire them for screwing up?

      Can it be because drug users don’t cause problems in the workplace?

      1. logic! lol… does not apply

  17. Legalization, here we come!

  18. Public health care costs used as an excuse for the government to intervene in individual choices like marijuana usage. Didn’t see that one coming.

  19. Holy fuck this pisses me off. I put up with 70+ hour weeks for a large part of the year with no overtime b/c I don’t get drug tested. If they force my employer to start drug testing I’m off to Canada or New Zealand……but probably Mexico.

  20. – The report encourages carte blanche workplace drug testing, on the grounds that it will curtail productivity losses associated with drug use and improve users’ lives.


    1. Yeah I don’t get your comment. Makes no sense.

      1. I’m not doing drugs at work FYI.

      2. Healthcare drives all.

        The first half which I didn’t specifically address is that to progressives, there’s a new emphasis on productive workers. Productive workers bring in tax revenue which feeds the state.

        Progressive’s aggressive stance on prohibition makes perfect sense.

        So don’t act surprised.

        [deleted random characters to make message ‘valid’]

    2. How about the loss of productivity from having to fire the tens of millions of people who work and use drugs with no ill effects?

      1. i find it ironic that my buddy at boeing is subject to random testing but i am not

        1. I think most companies that drug test do so because their insurance companies require it.

          1. Guess who’s going to be the single biggest insurer in the next decade?

            1. FML.

      2. They go on public assistance. They are essentially wards of the state. The more people in the programs, the more successful, yadda yadda. The people who don’t get fired continue to feed the state… ostensibly more productively.

    3. Oh, and by the way, the whole ‘productive worker’ thing should be scaring the shit out of everyone about right now.

      We’re a’havin’ this debate about congress’ right to force you to buy a product? And we gots progressive defending congress’ right to do so if it’s in the federal government’s interest?

      Yeah, if the Federal Government deciding that high worker productivity is in their interest? Guess what the feds can force you to do in the name of ‘productivity’?

      You guys all getting plenty of sleep, taking your vitamins, excercising 20 minutes a day? Double-plus good drug prohibition is!

      Right over from the hips, brothers and sisters, please.

      Smith? Smith, W.?

      Yes, you.

      Bend lower.

      You’re not trying. Watch me.

      There, brother. That’s what I want.

      1. That’s why Madison and his pals put the Commerce Clause in the Constitution. So a bunch of totalitarian dickwads would tell each American what one must consume and what one cannot consume. That which is not mandatory is forbidden, citizen, because it would jeopardize your genuine liberty.

        I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free.

  21. Land of the free. Home of the brave.

  22. The problem with “Reefer Madness” is that once young people use marijuana and realize that everything the gubmint has told them about it is a lie then they tend to believe that everything the gubmint tells them is a lie. Unfortunately,they are usually correct. Welcome to the real world kids.

  23. If “everything is related to health care” then Obamacare should be a good enough program for the politicians to have the same Obamacare healthcare as us lowly peons they mandate it on, right?
    God, I hope the Supremes get us out of this clusterfuck socialized medicine that is Obamacare.

    1. It’s a slow rot. The supremes may overturn part of it. But legislators will be back next year, and the year after that, and the year after that, and the year after that.

      The government and its quest to control the population never ends. It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are enrolled in some one federal program or another.

      1. ^^^This. 🙁

        When everything is under the umbrella of “Health Care”, as opposed to “Medical Care”, then where does this Leviathan stop? Think about it, what aspect of your life, no matter how small or inconsequential, is not somehow related to “health?” If I was a Platonic minded lad, there’s no limit on what I could control.

        The short answer: There is no limit.

  24. I hate this fucking guy. Yes, Barry, no one who uses *drugs* is a productive worker. Yes, let’s implement a system that’s testing for potheads, who could’ve smoked a J in the last month, and could be one of the best workers at a plant, but meanwhile, the guy poppin extra Klons or Perks is ok to go. And yes Barry, no one who as ever used *drugs* could ever be “productive” enough to one day be POTUS. I repeat, I hate this fucking guy.

  25. Hey, check out page 8 of the 2012 drug strategy briefing. They brag about how, in 2011, they created a Federal Interagency Workgroup on College and University Drinking and Substance Use to “address underage drinking … as a public health, safety and economic competitiveness issue.”

    Economic competitiveness??

    Here I thought economic competitiveness was determined by things like tax rates, labor market restrictions, overregulation, and trade policy. Now I know better: economic competitiveness is determined by college kids drinking.

    Thank God for the federal government.

    1. Infantilizing 18-20 year olds does nothing to help the “children”.

      1. But he will give them a gun, send them half way around the world to kill someone or get killed, and all before they can legally buy a drink! Oh, the Children!

  26. This is just Obama doing what he does best. He knows his voters are suckers.

  27. I had a comment but no matter what version of it I put in, I got a “Your comment is invalid.” message. Does anyone know what triggers that? There was nothing wrong with my comment (unless the squirrels have a Godwin detector because I compared the last paragraph of the article to the Downfall).

    1. I’ll try pasting it in one piece at a time.

      This prohibition strategy hasn’t worked in the past and it cannot work in the future. Latin American leaders know it, and President Obama must know it. Let’s stop the charade and begin to bring drugs under control through legalization

      1. Not to Godwin the thread, but when I read this all I could think of was the movie Der Untergang (The Downfall) when everyone knows the war is lost and Hitler is planning how they will reconquer the oil fields and turn things around.

        1. He orders paper armies around and plots how these nonexistent forces will crush the enemy and when his will isn’t carried out he screams “Aber das war ein Befehl, ein BEFEHL, ein Fuhrer BEFEHL!” (But it was an order, an ORDER, a Fuhrer ORDER!)

          1. Nobody dares say the obvious — that it is all pointless — and they go out and die and kill in service of the lie. Anyone who dares to admit the obvious is killed for not supporting the Fuhrer.

            Our drug policy is reaching that level of absurdity, yet nobody in a position of power will admit it, perhaps because doing so would be to admit that the will of the government is not, in fact, all powerful.

      2. [This prohibition strategy hasn’t worked in the past and it cannot work in the future.]

        This prohibition strategy hasn’t worked in the entire history of the world, and it cannot work in the future.

    2. Now that was stupid. Apparently the problem was that I used a u with an umlaut and em dashes. I guess Reason got really scared of them foreign characters after WI lost control of its sphincter on one of the threads using Google Translate.

      1. Does that mean we can’t type Spinal Tap’s name with the metal umlaut over the ‘n’?

      2. I had a post blocked for using a fucking em dash.

        It’s possible all non-ASCII characters are blocked.

        Smart quote test: “

        1. Okay, so not all non-ASCII. Still.

        2. If they’re going to ban any characters, it should be the “smart” quotes.

          1. Yeah, I’m just trying to figure out where the line is drawn. It’s apparently a half-assed attempt to define all characters we need for English.

  28. Lighten up Mike, Dear Leader is only trying to protect the flower of our nature’s youth by educating them on the dangers of the eeeeeeeeeeeeeevil weed, just like they all have for oh, 80 years now. Funny thing, you would have thought the message would have gotten across by now. Ah well.

    Now relax and go pop an FDA approved Xanax. (Careful though, I hear there’s a possibility of side effects and the potential for dependence)

  29. …we must ensure continued withdraw support for policies and programs that reduce penalize drug use and its at enormous costs to American society.

    FTFY, Mr President.

  30. Sadly, this President is worse than predicted! Now he wants to make private industry the governments ad hoc arm to search us. I guess he’ll offer them tax breaks to implement drug tests for all.

  31. Thank God this mess will be broke in the coming decade.

  32. The zero tolerance policy, the carte blanche workplace drug testing, change psuedephrine products from over the counter to Rx-required and the encouragement of states to enhance penalties all sound like they came from the playbooks of ALEC and the private prison lobby. Even with a 2nd term, the republicans will likely continue to vigorously obstruct his agenda so these goals may remain just goals.

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