Public Papers

Remarks at a Drug Control Strategy Meeting


Thank you all very much. And let me single out those gentlemen with me: Governor Bob Martinez; Attorney General, Mr. Barr; Secretary Sullivan; and Secretary of Education Alexander. It's a pleasure to be with all of you, and I'm especially happy to welcome the Ambassadors of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela, neighbors with whom we're intensifying our cooperation in the fight against drugs. And ladies and gentlemen all, thank you.

I've been briefed on what kind of a prestigious audience, an important group we have here with us today. All of us are here today to give you an update on America's war against drug abuse.

First, let me say it is a real war. This isn't a headline writer's hype of some sort. The poison of drug abuse and the violence it breeds have left a trail of death and destruction in our cities. And anyone who lives in a big city knows of places close to home that look like war zones, with the neighborhoods burned and scarred, tyrannized by gangs, by drug gangs. Gang violence is claiming the lives of kids who get caught up in drugs, and the drug gangs' gun battles are even stealing the lives of innocent bystanders.

We haven't won this war yet, but I'm determined that we will. Everybody that is working the problem is determined that we will win this war. It is imperative that we put more resources into our fight. Accordingly, I'm asking the Congress for fiscal '93 to provide .7 billion to wage this war on drugs. If Congress approves my request, funding for the war against drugs will have increased by 93 percent to nearly double the level of just 3 years ago when I took office.

We start by taking our Federal dollars to the front lines. More than one-quarter of our proposed Federal budget for drug control, more money than ever before, will go to assist State and local government in their drug control programs. Treatment and prevention programs, working to reduce the demand for drugs, would receive over .1 billion in 1993. We will expand programs to help high-risk groups like adolescents and pregnant women. We'll increase emergency grants for drug-free schools and communities by 100 percent. And we'll increase by 15 percent the Federal funding for community partnership grants in the fight against drugs. Community partnership grants help good neighbors like the volunteers who brought about the demolition of more than 800 crack houses in Miami. And we're continuing the excellent HUD drug elimination program where we've increased annual funding from .2 million to 165 million since '89. This HUD program has helped such citizens as the men and women of Chicago's Cabrini-Green housing project in their efforts to get those drug gangs out of their buildings.

As President, I am determined that our Federal authorities offer all the support that they possibly can to the communities that make this full commitment. You have my word: I will demand an equal commitment from the Congress. No American, young or old or in-between, should have to live in fear.

We've made real progress in this fight against drug abuse, drug use. Between '88 and '91, current overall drug use dropped by 13 percent, while among adolescents drug use dropped by 27 percent. Cocaine use tells the same story. While current use of this deadly drug among the general population decreased by 35 percent, 35, among teenagers it dropped by 63 percent.

Now, think about that last one, that last statistic. Compared with 4 years ago, almost two-thirds fewer of our kids are falling for the temptation of cocaine. Our young people are getting the message. Millions and millions more of our kids are listening to good advice and saving themselves from the lives of addiction and misery. Of course, one life sacrificed to the demons of drugs or drug abuse violence is one too many. Saving those lives has got to be everyone's mission, from Federal officials to county prosecutors and cops on the beat.

We cannot gain total victory without the strength and the resolve and the dedication of countless volunteers. Every time an individual parent or teacher or clergyman motivates a young person to say no to drug abuse, we as a nation move much closer to our goal. So let me say as clearly as I possibly can: Success in the drug war depends crucially on our churches and synagogues; our schools; our service clubs and young people's organizations; and most important, American families, strengthened by the virtues and bonds of love and honor and just plain strength. American families, that's the key.

Before I turn the program over to Governor Martinez, who's doing a superb job in this field, let me mention again something that we announced last week, namely that he and I will be meeting next month with the Presidents of Colombia, Bolivia, Peru, Venezuela, and Ecuador and Mexico. This will be the second regional drug summit. We must work more effectively than ever with these nations in fighting the spread of drugs. And I'll drive home the message that there are no half measures.

I will also convince those world leaders, leaders of those countries that we are tackling the demand side of the equation. I remember Cartagena, and I remember there was some doubt on the parts of those Presidents as to what we were doing at home on the demand side. I think now we have a good record with real progress to report to them. It makes a difference to how they can go about using their resources in their countries.

Now I'd like to turn the podium over to Bob Martinez and the other briefers who are working so hard to win this drug war. And I really do thank each of you for your commitment and for your effort. I will single out just one group here, the Partnership against drugs, where we have this marvelous media effort going on now. It's about million a day being spent on pro bono advertising to get the message to the young people. And that is not Government; that is volunteers taking that message to the people of this country.

And there are so many wonderful stories of that nature, and I know many of the programs that work are represented by people right here. So I do thank you for your commitment and your effort, and let's continue this fight until we can say, each one of us, that we have conquered the scourge of drug abuse.

Thank you very much for letting me pop in.

Note: The President spoke at 2:05 p.m. in Room 450 of the Old Executive Office Building. In his remarks, he referred to Bob Martinez, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and to the Partnership for a Drug-Free America.