Oliver North
WASHINGTON -- Some have described Hurricane Irene as "the most over-hyped event in history." Americans in the Northeast who were flooded out of their homes and businesses and those without electricity, fuel or water don't agree. But a U.S. official I spoke with this week told me, "The next storm coming from down south is already deadlier than Irene, and nobody is paying attention."

My source wants to remain anonymous because he is not authorized to talk about these matters with the media. He doesn't work for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Federal Emergency Management Agency or the National Weather Service -- and he isn't talking about Hurricane Katia, now approaching the U.S. mainland from the Atlantic Ocean. He works for the Drug Enforcement Administration, and he says, "Our government has helped to create the 'perfect deadly storm.'" Sadly, his forecast is likelier to be right than anything from our weather guessers.

According to The Associated Press, Hurricane Irene claimed more than 40 lives and caused an estimated $7 billion in damage. That's just a fraction of the number of American lives already lost this year to overdoses on illicit substances and in drug-related violence. Estimates of the financial costs associated with illegal drugs -- criminal activity, lost productivity, medical treatment, rehabilitation and incarceration for those convicted -- are more than $215 billion per year. According to my source, "that's nothing compared to what's coming. It's about to get a whole lot worse." The facts bear out his dire prediction.

In the 1980s, Nancy Reagan was famous for telling kids, "Just say no to drugs." Today's first lady is on an anti-fast food campaign. In the 1990s, the Clinton administration increased funding for the DEA and started Plan Colombia to deal with the tons of cocaine coming into the U.S. The Obama administration has reduced funding for both. As president, George W. Bush enforced a zero-tolerance policy for federal workers using illicit drugs. Now the White House and Justice Department refuse to enforce federal narcotics laws against those with a "prescription" for medical marijuana or for "user amounts" of drugs in the possession of criminals. And now Americans' insatiable appetite for mind-altering chemicals, psychotropic substances and hallucinogenic vegetation is threatening the stability of entire nations.

Oliver North

Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.