Trump Budget Guts Funding to Office of National Drug Control Policy

By Bryan Le 05/08/17

A leaked draft reveals plans to cut funding to the ONDCP from $388 million to $24 million.

President Donald Trump with Vice President Mike Pence.
The money—gone.

The Trump administration’s 2018 budget proposal looks to cut funding to the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) by almost 95%, according to a leaked White House draft.

The draft indicates that funding for the ONDCP will drop from $388 million in 2017 to $24 million in 2018, which includes completely cutting funds to the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) and the Drug-Free Communities Support (DFC) programs, justifying the cuts as allowing the ONDCP “to shift focus from duplicative and burdensome administrative tasks.”

But some insist that the ONDCP is vital to the nation's anti-drug efforts. "We have a heroin and prescription drug crisis in this country, and we should be supporting efforts to reverse this tide, not proposing drastic cuts to those who serve on the front lines of this epidemic," said Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio in a statement.

The HIDTA program, expanded under former Drug Czar Michael Botticelli, channels resources and federal support to law enforcement in “high-intensity drug trafficking areas” to fight the rising opioid epidemic.

The DFC program aims to support local community-based efforts to prevent youth substance abuse. The program received $86 million in 2015 under Botticelli to fund grants to 700 communities nationwide.

The justifications for the cuts, outlined in the draft, argue that these programs overlap the efforts of other federal organizations, such as the DEA and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

"I would urge the Administration to reconsider these cuts, and continue to build a comprehensive plan to help Americans suffering with substance use disorders and their families," wrote Jessica Nickel, President and CEO of the Addiction Policy Forum, in a statement.

But Maj. Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director for the Law Enforcement Action Partnership, welcomes the cuts only as a first step to comprehensive drug reform.

"The ONDCP is one of the primary government agencies carrying out destructive and wasteful drug war policies," he said in a statement. "But, if we're going to slash enforcement funding, money needs to be redirected into fact-based drug education, harm reduction programs like supervised injection facilities, and treatment on-demand."

White House officials have declined to speak in specifics about the draft.

"It would be premature for us to comment—or anyone to report—on any aspect of this ever-changing, internal discussion before the publication of the document," said a White House official. "The President and his cabinet are working collaboratively to create a leaner, more efficient government that does more with less of taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars."

The Fix interviewed former Drug Czar Michael Botticelli in 2015 about the Affordable Care Act, Medication Assisted Treatment and 12-step programs.

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Bryan Le grew up in the 90's, so the Internet is practically his third parent. This combined with a love for journalism led him to The Fix. When he isn't fulfilling his duties as Editorial Coordinator, he's obsessing over fancy keyboards he can't justify buying. Find Bryan on LinkedIn or Twitter