Boxer to Propose Bill to Double Federal Funding for Drug Treatment
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) yesterday announced that she will propose a bill that would boost federal funding for drug treatment from $3 billion to $6 billion over five years, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. According to HHS, of the nearly 5 million drug addicts nationwide, about 2.9 million receive no treatment. Noting that many addicts who seek treatment often wait weeks or months to get into programs, Boxer said, "To be turned away when you need help for a serious addiction is very, very deadly. It's deadly to the individual, to their family and to society." Under Boxer's proposal, states, such as California, that offer drug offenders treatment rather than jail time would receive $125 million in federal matching grants. According to state treatment officials, Boxer's plan could help "fill in the gaps left by Proposition 36," the voter-approved state measure that mandates drug treatment rather than prison for first- and second-time offenders. The proposition guarantees treatment for addicts, but only those convicted of drug-related offenses. The Chronicle reports that Boxer's bill may face "rough going" in the evenly split Senate, but Boxer said there is growing consensus among lawmakers and drug policy experts that current drug interdiction efforts have "failed" (Coile, San Francisco Chronicle, 4/13).