Though President Barack Obama often masquerades as a savior of the oppressed and downtrodden, his actions speak louder than his rhetoric. His stance on the War on Drugs is no different. In the budget the president just submitted to Congress, he allocates $1 billion more than last year ($26.34 billion to $27.57 billion) to continue the War On Drugs — the war that in rhetoric, he acknowledges has been unsuccessful.
Before he was president, he said,
The war on drugs has been an utter failure. We need to rethink and decriminalize our marijuana laws. We need to rethink how we’re operating the drug war.
In 2012, he then backtracked on decriminalization.
Nevertheless, his 2015 budget claims to be a,
21st century approach to drug policy that outlines innovative policies and programs and recognizes that substance use disorders are not just a criminal justice issue, but also a major public health concern…
He calls for
….an evidence-based plan for real drug policy reform, spanning the spectrum of prevention, early intervention, treatment, recovery support, criminal justice reform, effective law enforcement, and international cooperation.
While he preaches high and mighty, Obama has appropriated an increase in funds directed toward the War on Drugs. According to Obama, to fight it, the Departments of Justice, Defense, and Homeland Security (as well as the Drug Czar) alone should receive over $14.5 billion.
The decades-old Drug War funding ratio of law enforcement vs. treatment and prevention is still 60:40. While the DOJ, DOD, and DHS get $14.5 billion, Health and Human Services get $10 billion ($6 billion of which goes to Medicare and Medicaid).
As further detailed by Alternet:
Justice Department drug war spending would increase from $7.79 billion this fiscal year to $8.14 billion next year under the president’s proposal. That includes nearly $3.7 billion for the Bureau of Prisons (up $187 million), $2.46 billion for the DEA (up $90 million), $519 million for the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (up $12 million), and $293 million for the Office of Justice Programs (up $50 million).
The $27 billion toward drug control overall spans 16 agencies, including the Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Agriculture.
In classic Obama smoke-screen style, there are some decreases in funding with regard to the Office of National Drug Control Policy ($375 million to $307 million), the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program ($245 million to $193 million) and the Department of Defense drug spending (1.307 billion to $1.267 billion).
Nevertheless, the president’s past and present actions show he has no intention of actually reforming or ending the Drug War. His DEA was still raiding medical marijuana dispensaries last year and continues to, even after Congress banned the use of DOJ funds to interfere with state laws. His new attorney general, Loretta Lynch, is a dedicated drug warrior, the DEA still classifies marijuana as a dangerous Schedule I drug, and the IRS, under his watch, still sneakily attempts to drive marijuana shops (where it’s legal) out of business.
These halfhearted attempts to appease public outrage mirror other Obama trends. He similarly called for an investigation into police militarization and brutality, only to appoint a corrupt police commissioner to consult on the project. His agencies refused to press charges against Darren Wilson.
While putting police militarization under “review” and scrutiny, he continues to condone arming police with military equipment (throwing in a few restrictions and hurdles). He also spent his most of his administration facilitating this militarization.
While George Bush was just as violent and corrupt as Obama, the current president has a knack for concealing his true intentions and seamlessly fooling the people. Bumbling Bush was not nearly as conniving or cunning in his swindle of citizens, but Obama has expertly perpetuated total surveillance, corporatism, and war under the guise of freedom, equality, and peace. His stance on the Drug War is yet another example of his commitment to exercising unjust authority in a creatively oppressive way.