This paper reviews the first three years of drug policy in the Obama Administration, focusing in particular on whether policy has been and will continue to be “health-oriented”. Some advocates use the term “health-oriented” as a euphemism for legalization of the production, supply, advertising and use of currently illegal drugs. Such individuals would not consider the Obama drug policy “health-oriented” because it reflects the President’s longstanding opposition to drug legalization. Other observers use the term “health-oriented” to mean drug policies that enhance public health. From this perspective, the Obama policy has been unusually “health-oriented”. The administration has expanded health and social services for people with drug and alcohol problems to an extent not seen in 40 years or more. It has also eliminated harsh drug war rhetoric, reduced some criminal penalties for drug offenses, supported re-entry programs and alternatives to incarceration and overseen the first drop in the size of the incarcerated population in decades.
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