Last updated: October 19, 2020
Though President Trump has actively and publicly campaigned throughout the country promising to fix the current drug and opioid epidemic, public health advocates believe he has plans in place that could actually make the problem much worse.
According to leaked information reported first by CBS News, the current administration plans to essentially eliminate the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) in 2018. By cutting 96% of the ONDCP’s budget (reducing the $388 million to $24 million), the federal agency that is currently most instrumental in spearheading the war on drugs will be hamstrung.
The rumored budgetary cuts come on the heels of Trump signing a March executive order to create a national commission for the purpose of addressing the opioid crisis. The national commission was poised to receive the support of ONDCP who was tasked to create strategies to address the problem.
What the cuts would mean to drug abuse
If these cuts are made, as much as half of ONDCP’s current staff could be eliminated, as well as grant programs currently in place to curb the current drug and opioid epidemic in this country. Two notable grants in danger of being eliminated are the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program as well as the Drug-Free Communities Support program, both of which have been instrumental in recent years.
According to the leaked memo, the President considers these programs to be “duplicative of other efforts across the Federal government and supplant State and local responsibilities.”
Today’s drug epidemic
Drug abuse is without a doubt a public health problem that has impacted nearly every family and community in the United States in one way or another. Drug abuse is responsible for millions of illnesses and/or injuries yearly, not to mention the number of lives and relationships that are destroyed in its wake. The drug epidemic—from the abuse of prescription drugs to rampant heroin use and everything in between—is at risk of increasing without proper programs and people in place to stem the tide. The ONDCP was established in 1988 during the War on Drugs at the height of the existing crack epidemic.
The founder of Marijuana Majority (in favor of marijuana legalization) told Business Insider that it was during the final years of the Obama Administration that the ONDCP took great strides to improve harm reduction and improve treatment policies.
Far-reaching consequences on society
When the rumor began to circulate earlier this year that President Trump might be cutting ONDCP’s budget, drug policy organizations and medical personnel sent a letter to the director of the Office of Management and Budget. In it, the coalition urged the director to keep ONDCP front and center on the war on drugs. The letter stated—
“At a time when drugs now kill more people than firearms or car crashes, it is more important than ever for ONDCP to remain a strong voice in the White House and a visible presence nationally.”
Dismantling the ONDCP could be catastrophic with far-reaching consequences affecting individuals, families, and businesses.
Impact on workplace drug abuse
It is no secret that using or abusing drugs is destructive to decision-making skills, and that drug use and abuse can physically impair people. This is no more evident than when employees are on the job. Specifically, combining drugs and a lack of discernment can be deadly, causing great damage to the workplace that results in losses of all kinds. According to research, 10 to 20 percent of workers in America who die on the job have positive test results when tested for alcohol or drugs.
Simply put, businesses who unknowingly employ drug or opioid abusers are at great risk of being hurt financially as a result of dangerous or deadly accidents that can result in lost production and potential court cases.
Importance of drug testing
For now, America waits to see how the current administration will handle the budget with regard to the ONDCP. It is unclear whether the current President will keep his word to fight the drug and opioid epidemic or if he will contribute to a danger. In the meantime, drug testing in the workplace will continue to be a vital and beneficial exercise for companies working to take cautionary measures to protect themselves and their employees from drug and opioid abusers.
In some ways, it could prove to be more vital now than ever before.