Drug Enforcement in the United States: History, Policy, and Trends [October 2, 2014] [open pdf - 592KB]
"The federal government prohibits the manufacturing, distribution, and possession of many intoxicating substances that are solely intended for recreational use (notable exceptions are alcohol and tobacco); however, the federal government also allows for and controls the medical use of many intoxicants. Federal authority to control these substances primarily resides with the Attorney General of the United States. Over the last decade, the United States has shifted its stated drug control policy toward a comprehensive approach; one that focuses on prevention, treatment, and enforcement. In order to restrict and reduce availability of illicit drugs in the United States, a practice referred to as 'supply reduction,' the federal government continues to place emphasis on domestic drug enforcement. According to the most recent drug control budget (FY2015) released by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), approximately 60% of all federal drug control spending is dedicated to supply reduction, with approximately 37% of the total budget dedicated to domestic law enforcement. Federal agencies, primarily the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), enforce federal controlled substances laws in all states and territories, but the majority of drug crimes known to U.S. law enforcement are dealt with at the state level. In the United States in 2012, the DEA arrested 30,476 suspects for federal drug offenses while state and local law enforcement arrested 1,328,457 suspects for drug offenses. In many cases, federal agencies assist state and local agencies with drug arrests, and suspects are referred for state prosecution, and vice-versa."
CRS Report for Congress, R43749