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CADCA seeks to deliver prevention support to White House

November 1, 2011
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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Organization pushes for signatures to a petition

Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) is trying to overcome factors such as technological glitches and a fast-approaching deadline to demonstrate to the Obama administration that the American public is firmly behind increased support for drug prevention activity.

CADCA is asking its allies to sign an online petition in a drive taking place under the White House’s “We the People” initiative, under which the administration has promised that any issue receiving 25,000 signatures from the public will be taken up with the president’s Cabinet. The 25,000-signature level represents a substantial increase from the White House initiative’s original target of 5,000 signatures per petition, and as of Oct. 31 CADCA was not even halfway to that smaller number.

With CADCA approaching a Friday, Nov. 4 deadline in its 30-day period since the petition was first posted, it would seem virtually impossible to achieve the higher number. But that doesn’t mean the organization that represents local anti-drug coalitions considers this effort to be a futile pursuit.

“If we can get to 5,000 even, this will make it easier for our allies to say that people care about this issue,” says Gen. Arthur T. Dean, CADCA’s chairman and CEO.

CADCA has had to overcome some challenges in building support for its petition, which asks the administration to “ensure greater emphasis and support for drug prevention.” Technological glitches that frustrated some site visitors and that finally appeared to have been cleared up by the White House in the past week have slowed the process. The administration denied CADCA’s bid for an extension of its deadline to compensate for the technological problems that arose, according to the association.

Interested parties can visit www.cadca.org/resources/detail/help-us-get-drug-prevention-white-house%E2%80%99s-radar-screen to access and sign the petition.

The text of the petition states that recent poll results show great public concern about youth drug use as prevalence of use has tended to increase in recent national surveys. The petition reads in part, “Effective drug prevention, such as the Drug-Free Communities program, can achieve population level reductions in drug use because it is data driven, multi-sector and implements comprehensive strategies. Drug prevention can reduce use, ensure more youth are college and career ready and must be a bigger priority.”

The petition text does not ask for specific quantitative commitments from the administration. “We didn’t want to use this as a budget process,” says Dean.

Sue Thau, CADCA’s public policy consultant, adds that it is hugely important to make the case for substance use prevention now because of predominant trends at the national policy level. “We got left out of healthcare reform,” she says. “SAMHSA is moving to more generic prevention.”

In its messaging to allies, CADCA is emphasizing the aggressive mobilization efforts taking place in organizations that support weakening current anti-drug laws. “As it stands, there are several petitions calling for the legalization of drugs and those petitions have more than 80,000 signatures!” CADCA states. “We can’t let drug legalization garner more signatures than drug prevention!”

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