chapter  4
32 Pages

The State Politics of Drug Abuse

Although the federal government receives the lion's share of publicity in the current war on drugs, that war is largely being fought by state and local governments, not by federal law enforcement agencies. In 1989 the federal government referred only 22,000 drug cases for prosecution, whereas state governments arrested over 1.36 million persons for drug offenses. Even though some of this difference reflects differences in law enforcement priorities (e.g., the federal priority on trafficking offenses), it underscores the vital role of state governments as policymaking entities. Despite this importance, only a single political study of state drug control exists in the literature (Meier, 1992).