Reversing a previously floated 94 percent cut for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, President Trump sent Congress a budget request on Tuesday that includes robust funding for the agency, commonly known as the drug czar’s office.
Earlier this month, a leaked document from the Office of Management and Budget included a huge cut for the office’s salaries and expenses line item and the complete elimination of its two major initiatives: The High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program and the Drug-Free Communities Support Program (DFC).
That generated intense bipartisan pushback from members of Congress, state officials and drug prevention groups.
HIDTA, a law enforcement effort that focuses on interdiction and arrests in certain so-called “high-intensity” target areas of the country, is funded at $247 million in the president’s new budget, down from its current $250 million appropriation.
The budget requests $92 million for DFC, which funds community groups across the nation that are ostensibly aimed at preventing substance abuse. That’s down just slightly from its current funding level of $95 million. (Some of DFC grantees have focused time and resources working to oppose marijuana policy reforms in their states.)
In a press release, ONDCP said that across all federal drug control programs, the budget devotes $12.1 billion for treatment and prevention efforts, while giving $15.6 billion for law enforcement, interdiction and international initiatives aimed at stopping drugs.
The marks a reversal of the Obama administration’s slow shift toward funding demand reduction programs more than supply reduction efforts.
In another provision of concern for cannabis policy reform advocates, the budget request continues a Congressionally-approved rider that protects state industrial hemp programs from federal interference:
SEC. 720. None of the funds made available by this Act or any other Act may be used—
(1) in contravention of section 7606 of the Agricultural Act of 2014 (7 U.S.C. 5940); or
(2) to prohibit the transportation, processing, sale, or use of industrial hemp that is grown or cultivated in accordance with subsection section 7606 of the Agricultural Act of 2014, within or outside the State in which the industrial hemp is grown or cultivated.
But it does not contain language in current Fiscal Yer 2017 appropriations law that protects state medical cannabis laws from Justice Department interference.
With respect to the District of Columbia, the document reverts to earlier language that would allow the city to spend some of its own money taxing and regulating marijuana instead of adopting more restrictive language that Congress included in its 2017 spending bill.
SEC. 809. (a) None of the Federal funds contained in this Act may be used to enact or carry out any law, rule, or regulation to legalize or otherwise reduce penalties associated with the possession, use, or distribution of any schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 801 et seq.) or any tetrahydrocannabinols derivative.
(b) None of the funds contained in this Act may be used to enact any law, rule, or regulation to legalize or otherwise reduce penalties associated with the possession, use, or distribution of any schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 801 et seq.) or any tetrahydrocannabinols derivative for recreational purposes.
The president’s budget request is the first step in the annual federal appropriations process. Congress will now get to work on its Fiscal Year 2018 funding legislation.