Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Peter R. Orszag to direct OMB

The selection of Peter R. Orszag to direct the Office of Management and Budget has very interesting implications for the effective drug policy movement. Orszag has been charged with finding real budgetary savings. Orszag is committed to evidence-based policy, which is the antithesis of the damn-the-evidence, full speed crusade that has driven drug enforcement for decades.

In particular, Orszag has a specialty in health care economics. Substance abuse -- tobacco addiction, alcohol misuse, and drug misuse -- has big costs, but we know that in many respects these costs are a consequence of prohibition: the society's failure to effectively control the quality of drugs, their distribution, the appropriate and necessary education in the use of drugs, and the costs of lost productivity from criminal justice intervention and incarceration.

Recently Orszag lectured at Harvard. In his blog, he characterized the theme of his talk

Greater emphasis on the psychological and sociological influences on human health could lead to improvements in many areas of health care and medicine.

OMB plays a major role in setting policy for all federal agencies. In domestic policy especially it helps keep the various agencies in sync. This appointment looks like good news for those of looking for a smarter drug control regime.

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