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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release April 29, 1996


I am pleased to transmit to the Congress the 1996 National Drug Control Strategy. This Strategy carries forward the policies and principles of the 1994 and 1995 Strategies. It describes new directions and initiatives to confront the ever-changing challenges of drug abuse and trafficking.

This past March I convened the White House Leadership Conference on Youth, Drug Use, and Violence in order to focus the Nation's attention on two major health problems faced by young people today -- drug use and violence. The conference brought together over 300 young people, parents, clergy, community and business leaders, judges, prosecutors, police, entertainers, media executives, researchers, and treatment and prevention specialists from across America to examine solutions and keep us moving forward with proven strategies. The Vice President, General Barry McCaffrey, and I met with the participants in a series of roundtable discussions, discussing how to strengthen the efforts of families, the media, communities, schools, businesses, and government to reduce drug use and violence. Participants left with new energy and new ideas, determined to return home and begin implementing the solutions and strategies discussed that day.

This conference took place at an important juncture in America's ongoing fight against drug abuse. In the last few years our nation has made significant progress against drug use and related crime. The number of Americans who use cocaine has been reduced by 30 percent since 1992. The amount of money Americans spend on illicit drugs has declined from an estimated $64 billion five years ago to about $49 billion in 1993 -- a 23 percent drop. We are finally gaining ground against overall crime: drug-related murders are down 12 percent since 1989; robberies are down 10 percent since 1991.

At the same time, we have dealt serious blows to the international criminal networks that import drugs into America. Many powerful drug lords, including leaders of Colombia's notorious Cali cartel, have been arrested. A multinational air interdiction program has disrupted the principal air route for smugglers between Peru and Colombia. The close cooperation between the United States, Peru, and other governments in the region has disrupted the cocaine economy in several areas. Our efforts have decreased overall cocaine production and have made coca planting less attractive to the farmers who initiate the cocaine production process. And I have taken the serious step of cutting off all non-humanitarian aid to certain drug producing and trafficking nations that have not cooperated with the United States in narcotics control. Further, I have ordered that we vote against their requests for loans from the World Bank and other multi-lateral development banks. This clearly underscores the unwavering commitment of the United States to stand against drug production and trafficking.

Here at home, we have achieved major successes in arresting, prosecuting, and dismantling criminal drug networks. In Miami, the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Program, through its operational task forces, successfully concluded a major operation that resulted in the indictments of 252 individuals for drug trafficking and other drug-related crimes. Operations conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration's Mobile Enforcement Teams program (MET), a highly successful federal tool for assisting local law enforcement, have resulted in more than 1,500 arrests of violent and predatory drug criminals in more than 50 communities across the nation.

But as the White House Leadership Conference on Youth, Drug Use, and Violence showed, now is the time to press forward. We must not let up for a moment in our efforts against drug abuse, and drug abuse by young people, particularly.

There are many reasons why young people do continue to use drugs. Chief among these are ignorance of the facts about addiction and the potency of drugs, and complacency about the danger of drugs. Unfortunately, all too often we see signs of complacency about the dangers of drug use: diminished attention to the drug problem by the national media; the glamorization and legitimization of drug use in the entertainment industry; the coddling of professional athletes who are habitual drug-users; avoidance of the issue by parents and other adults; calls for drug-legalization; and the marketing of products to young people that legitimize and elevate the use of alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs.

All Americans must accept responsibility to teach young people that drugs are illegal and they are deadly. They may land you in jail; they may cost you your life. We must renew our commitment to the drug prevention strategies that deter first-time drug use and stop the progression from alcohol and tobacco use to marijuana and harder drugs.

The National Drug Control Strategy is designed to prevent a new drug use epidemic through an aggressive and comprehensive full-court press that harnesses the energies of committed individuals from every sector of our society. As I said in the State of the Union, we must step up our attack against criminal youth gangs that deal in illicit drugs. We will improve the effectiveness of our cooperative efforts among U.S. defense and law enforcement agencies, as well as with other nations, to disrupt the flow of drugs coming into the country. We will seek to expand the availability and improve the quality of drug treatment. And we will continue to oppose resolutely calls for the legalization of illicit drugs. We will increase efforts to prevent drug use by all Americans, particularly young people.

The tragedy of drug abuse and drug-related crime affects us all. The National Drug Control Strategy requires commitment and resources from many individuals and organizations, and from all levels of government. For the Strategy to succeed, each of us must do our part.

We ask the Congress to be a bipartisan partner and provide the resources we need at the federal level to get the job done. I challenge state and local governments to focus on drug abuse as a top priority. We ask the media and the advertising and entertainment industries to work with us to educate our youth, and all Americans, about the dangers of drug use. Finally, we invite every American -- every parent, every teacher, every law enforcement officer, every faith leader, every young person, and every community leader -- to join our national campaign to save our youth.



April 29, 1996.

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