“These drastic proposed cuts are frankly heartbreaking and, if carried out, would cause us to lose many good people who contribute greatly to O.N.D.C.P.’s mission and core activities,” Mr. Baum wrote. “I don’t want to see this happen.”
In March, the White House announced plans to set up a commission to address the country’s opioid crisis. The drug control office was asked by the president to help support the commission’s efforts, and Mr. Baum said that the cuts appeared to be at odds with that plan.
The Trump administration released a “skinny budget” in March that asked for deep cuts to domestic programs in exchange for a big increase in military spending, but did not detail the plans for the White House’s drug office. A more comprehensive budget will be released this month.
John Czwartacki, a spokesman for the Office of Management and Budget, said in a statement, “The FY 18 budget is still under review and is not by any means a finalized document. Reports that suggest budgetary numbers or policy decisions are premature and subject to change the before the late May publication of the budget.”
The drug control office was planning to have a staff meeting on Monday to discuss the cuts.
When he was running for office, Mr. Trump talked regularly about the country’s drug addiction problem and said drugs were a reason that a wall was needed along the border with Mexico.
“We’re going to take all of these kids — and people, not just kids — that are totally addicted and they can’t break it,” Mr. Trump said at a campaign event in Ohio last year. “We’re going to work with them, we’re going to spend the money, we’re going get that habit broken.”
A coalition of groups dedicated to combating substance abuse circulated a letter to send to the White House on Friday condemning the cuts. “This proposed budget not only fails to live up to the president’s vision, it also sends the wrong message about the social and economic harms that drug supply and demand inflict on our nation,” they wrote.
Kevin Sabet, president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, who advised three former presidents on drug policy, said he was stumped by Mr. Trump’s decision to make cuts to his drug office. “It felt like a sucker punch in the face,” Mr. Sabet said after word trickled out about the cuts on Friday morning. “This is a time when we have one of the largest opioid epidemics in history and the rise of new industry of people selling pot candy to kids.”
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