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Finally, this sub-component also recognizes the growing problem associated with diversion of prescription drugs into the illicit black market. The policy provides funding for methods to redress that issue by improved tracking of prescriptions for controlled substances, including the practice of "doctor shopping" sometimes used to obtain legal prescriptions for controlled substances with the intention of distributing them illegally for profit (USONDCP, 2004).
III. Disrupting the Market: Attacking the Economic Basis of the Drug Trade: The third major component of the President's drug policy incorporates law enforcement and prosecution in a manner designed to address the economic basis of the drug trade. Specifically, the policy authorizes both increased funding as well as tactical reorganization of various elements of the criminal justice system with respect to the illegal drug trade. In that regard, the policy emphasizes a priority targeting initiative designed to identify and prosecute specific criminal organizations and enterprises involved in the illegal drug trade (USONDCP, 2004).
Additionally, the policy provides funding and guidance for increasing the ratio of U.S. prosecuting attorneys dedicated to the anti-drug issue in conjunction with Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) and both state and local law enforcement efforts to interdict the supply of the illicit drug market. These elements of the policy include funding of law enforcement fusion centers for the collection, analysis, and appropriate dissemination of necessary information pertaining to specific criminal activity; increased funding for border protection services designed to interdict illegal drug smugglers before their products enter the country; and increased funding for elements of the criminal justice system involved in identifying illegal funds and money transfers in order to dismantle criminal enterprises profiting from illegal drug sales and failure to comply with U.S. income tax laws (USONDCP, 2004).
Law enforcement plays a crucial role in the President's drug policy. While other aspects of the policy emphasize treatment and the rehabilitation of offenders in more productive ways than incarceration, law enforcement operations are still the primary means through which offenders come under the umbrella of any such program. The policy distinguishes between first-time (and other low-level) drug users from those implicated in drug sales and distribution.
The dual role of law enforcement is (1) to apprehend drug users in order to provide incentive for their voluntary participation in beneficial substance abuse and treatment programs in lieu of incarceration; and (2) to increase pressure on criminal enterprises responsible for the distribution and sales of illegal drugs into the U.S. black market. The apprehension of low-level drug dealers is delegated to local law enforcement authorities with increased federal funding, while federal law enforcement and border protection law enforcement agencies address smuggling across U.S. borders and large domestic criminal organizations involved in the distribution of drugs within the U.S., respectively.
Likewise, the policy emphasizes the roles of schools and communities with respect to providing guidance and awareness to children at risk of exposure to drug use before their exposure. This aspect of the policy recognizes the insufficiency of relying exclusively on one or the other; instead, it provides funding and guidance to both school programs and communities so that their efforts complement each other and fill in where the other leaves off.
Criticism of Policy:
The most obvious criticisms of the policy is that (1) it utterly fails to address the discrepancy between the manner in which the U.S. government treats legal drugs like alcohol and cigarettes and illicit drugs. In principle, this discrepancy undermines the policy because it detracts from its credibility, particularly in light of the heavy lobbying presence of tobacco interests in Washington (Farwell, 2008).
Perhaps more importantly, the policy all but neglects the issue of addressing the social problems that give rise to criminal activity of all types, including but hardly limited to illicit drug use. Specifically, the policy neglects the improvement of social factors, especially in low-income/high-crime communities that often result in increased vulnerability to illegal drug use (Macionis, 2003).
Farwell, S. Man Who Sells Tips on How to Avoid Arrest Is Running for Congress; the Dallas Morning News (Mar. 3/08)
Macionis, J. (2003) Sociology 9th Edition. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
USONDCP (2004) the President's National Drug Control Strategy. Retrieved October 21,…[continue]
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