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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release February 25, 1997


I am pleased to transmit the 1997 National Drug Control Strategy to the Congress. This strategy renews our bipartisan commitment to reducing drug abuse and its destructive consequences. It reflects the combined and coordinated Federal effort that is directed by National Drug Control Policy Director Barry McCaffrey and includes every department and over 50 agencies. It enlists all State and local leaders from across the country who must share in the responsibility to protect our children and all citizens from the scourge of illegal drugs.

In the 1996 National Drug Control Strategy, we set forth the basis of a coherent, rational, long-term national effort to reduce illicit drug use and its consequences. Building upon that framework, the 1997 National Drug Control Strategy adopts a 10-year national drug-control strategy that includes quantifiable measures of effectiveness. The use of a long-term strategy, with annual reports to the Congress and consistent outreach to the American people on our progress, will allow us to execute a dynamic, comprehensive plan for the Nation and will help us to achieve our goals.

We know from the past decade of Federal drug control efforts that progress in achieving our goals will not occur overnight. But our success in reducing casual drug use over the last decade demonstrates that drug abuse is not an incurable social ill. Thanks to the bipartisan efforts of the Congress and the past three administrations, combined with broad-based efforts of citizens and communities throughout the United States, we have made tremendous progress since the 1970's in reducing drug use.

Nonetheless, we are deeply concerned about the rising trend of drug use by young Americans. While overall use of drugs in the United States has fallen dramatically -- by half in 15 years -- adolescent drug abuse continues to rise. That is why the number one goal of our strategy is to motivate America's youth to reject illegal drugs and substance abuse.

Our strategy contains programs that will help youth to recognize the terrible risks associated with the use of illegal substances. The cornerstone of this effort will be our national media campaign that will target our youth with a consistent anti-drug message. But government cannot do this job alone. We challenge the national media and entertainment industry to join us -- by renouncing the glamorization of drug abuse and realistically portraying its consequences.

All Americans must accept responsibility to teach young people that drugs are wrong, drugs are illegal, and drugs are deadly. We must renew our commitment to the drug prevention strategies that deter first-time drug use and halt the progression from alcohol and tobacco use to illicit drugs.

While we continue to teach our children the dangers of drugs, we must also increase the safety of our citizens by substantially reducing drug-related crime and violence. At the beginning of my Administration, we set out to change this country's approach to crime by putting more police officers on our streets, taking guns out of the hands of criminals and juveniles, and breaking the back of violent street gangs. We are making a difference. For the fifth year in a row serious crime in this country has declined. This is the longest period of decline in over 25 years. But our work is far from done and we must continue to move in the right direction.

More than half of all individuals brought into the Nation's criminal justice systems have substance abuse problems. Unless we also break the cycle of drugs and violence, criminal addicts will end up back on the street, committing more crimes, and back in the criminal justice system, still hooked on drugs. The criminal justice system should reduce drug demand -- not prolong or tolerate it. Our strategy implements testing and sanctions through coerced abstinence as a way to reduce the level of drug use in the population of offenders under criminal justice supervision, and thereby reduce the level of other criminal behavior.

Our strategy supports the expansion of drug-free workplaces, which have proven so successful and we will continue to seek more effective, efficient, and accessible drug treatment to ensure that we are responsive to emerging drug-abuse trends.

We must continue to shield America?s air, land, and sea frontiers from the drug threat. By devoting more resources to protecting the Southwest border than ever before, we are increasing drug seizures, stopping drug smugglers, and disrupting major drug trafficking operations. We must continue our interdiction efforts, which have greatly disrupted the trafficking patterns of cocaine smugglers and have blocked the free flow of cocaine through the western Caribbean into Florida and the Southeast.

Our comprehensive effort to reduce the drug flow cannot be limited to seizing drugs as they enter the United States. We must persist in our efforts to break foreign and domestic sources of supply. We know that by working with source and transit nations, we can greatly reduce foreign supply. International criminal narcotics organizations are a threat to our national security. But if we target these networks, we can dismantle them -- as we did the Cali Cartel.

We will continue to oppose all calls for the legalization of illicit drugs. Our vigilance is needed now more than ever. We will continue to ensure that all Americans have access to safe and effective medicine. However, the current drug legalization movement sends the wrong message to our children. It undermines the concerted efforts of parents, educators, businesses, elected leaders, community groups, and others to achieve a healthy, drug-free society.

I am confident that the national challenge of drug abuse can be met by extending our strategic vision into the future, educating citizens, treating addiction, and seizing the initiative in dealing with criminals who traffic not only in illegal drugs but in human misery and lost lives.

Every year drug abuse kills 14,000 Americans and costs taxpayers nearly $70 billion. Drug abuse fuels spouse and child abuse, property and violent crime, the incarceration of young men and women, the spread of AIDS, workplace and motor vehicle accidents, and absenteeism in the work force.

For our children?s sake and the sake of this Nation, this menace must be confronted through a rational, coherent, cooperative, and long-range strategy. I ask the Congress to join me in a partnership to carry out this national strategy to reduce illegal drug use and its devastating impact on America.



February 25, 1997.

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