There is currently a curious battle taking place at the Iowa Capitol. The Governor’s Office of Drug Control Policy is lobbying to remain an independent agency with 8 full-time employees (FTE). Democratic Senators in the name of government efficiency want to cut the department to two FTEs and move it under the Iowa Public Safety Department. Governor Branstad wants the status quo. The Republicans in the House are proposing cutting it to 6 FTEs. House Democrats debated the need to increase the number to the current 8 FTEs. Senate Republicans, well they just vote no to any appropriations that Senate Democrats propose. Whew. What a mess. For those readers who are not familiar with this agency, the following is its history:
“The Governor’s Alliance on Substance Abuse (GASA), the predecessor agency to the Governor’s Office of Drug Control Policy (ODCP), was originally established in 1987, under the Department of Public Health. In 1990, legislative action removed GASA from Public Health and gave it independent status under the office of the Drug Enforcement and Abuse Prevention Coordinator, which had been part of the Governor’s office. GASA was removed from Public Health and given independent status because the agencies’ overall mission of coordination among several departments and the resources it managed, which called for extensive interaction with the criminal justice/law enforcement system, were not compatible with programming and philosophy under Public Health.
The Governor’s Office of Drug Control Policy officially came into existence on July 1, 2000. At that time legislation took effect changing the name of the Governor’s Alliance of Substance Abuse to ODCP and changing the title of the Drug Enforcement and Abuse Prevention Coordinator to the Drug Policy Coordinator. The legislation also combined three councils under the purview of the agency, creating the Drug Policy Advisory Council.
“The Governor’s Office of Drug Control Policy is the only agency that exists with a central mandate to coordinate and monitor all programs affecting a particular issue in the state. Under Chapter 80E ODCP, in support of the Iowa Drug Policy Coordinator, performs the role of coordinating and monitoring all programs involved with drug enforcement and substance abuse treatment and prevention.”ODCP History
“During fiscal year 2011, ODCP had eight full-time employees. The agency operating budget appropriation of $346,213, and $169,979 in fees/fines was collected, $5.1 million in federal receipts and $37,900 in interest earnings.”2011PerformanceReport
An incredible amount of money is spent at the local, state and national level and yet we still have a growing alcohol and substance abuse problem. There has been decades of meetings, task forces, and strategies, yet still no improvement. Year upon year of community coalitions based in educating the public and training parents to talk to their children has achieved no significant changes.
Laws have been implemented to “deter” people from drugs. The results are prisons filled to capacity with over 80% dealing with substance and alcohol abuse and mental health issues. And yet legislation continues to be introduced based in the same tired belief that deterrents work, even though it has been long proven that they do not.
Why do people including “educated” people still choose to use and abuse drugs and alcohol? Herein lies the solution. How sad that politics, funding, and job retention continues to keep us from seeking the answer.
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