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Informing America’s Policy on Illegal Drugs: What We Don’t Know Keeps Hurting Us
for Drug Abuse Prevention (SAODAP), to spearhead the new demand-reduction initiatives. It also enacted the legal framework for a nationwide program of voluntary, confidential community-based treatment. Over the next several years, federal funds were appropriated for prevention and treatment programs administered through state and local agencies. (After a number of reorganizations, this money is now administered through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration). Federal expenditures on all aspects of drug control rose more than 1,000 percent between 1969 and 1973, and two-thirds of this increase was allocated to treatment and prevention (National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse, 1973:280).
In 1972, Congress also established the interagency Strategy Council on Drug Abuse, cochaired by the chief federal drug law enforcement official and the head of the Special Action Office for Drug Abuse Prevention, and directed it to prepare a comprehensive, coordinated strategy for all federal drug abuse and drug trafficking prevention activities. The structure used to coordinate the growing federal effort has changed repeatedly over the past three decades, but national drug control strategy documents have been issued by the White House every year since 1973.
SCIENCE AND DRUG POLICY: RECENT PROGRESS
The first National Drug Control Strategy was sent to the President in March 1973, as was the report of the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse, Drug Use in America: Problem in Perspective. Both of these documents emphasized the urgent need to establish data systems for monitoring drug use and assessing the impact of drug control policies, and the importance of mounting an aggressive program of research to increase understanding of the causes and consequences of drug use and to inform policy. The challenge was set forth in the 1973 National Drug Control Strategy in the following words (Strategy Council on Drug Abuse, 1973:150):
Much is still unknown. In every area from treatment to prevention, from control of illicit traffic to the long-term consequences of drug use, there are gaps in our knowledge. A rational strategy should include a systematic effort to acquire the needed information…. Current priorities include efforts to measure the size and rate of change in the drug-using population, the adverse consequences of use of various drugs, the natural history of drug use and addiction, and new approaches to treatment and early intervention, including the advantages and disadvantages of educational efforts and mass media campaigns.
Research efforts are also needed to improve our capacity to control availability. These take the form of better methods to determine the origins of