Drugs

Over the last decade, Republican leadership, both in Congress and in the executive branch, took a comprehensive approach to face the problem of drugs on several fronts. Our zero-tolerance strategy embraced eradication, interdiction and enforcement, as well as education, treatment and rehabilitation. However, today's Democrats, both in the White House and on Capitol Hill, have abandoned this balanced approach.

Despite growing evidence that illicit drug use -- and its accessibility -- among adolescents is on the rise after more than a decade of steady decline, the Clinton Administration has seen no similar need for cabinet-wide action. Consider that from 1992 to 1993, illicit drug use among high school seniors grew from 27.1 percent to 31 percent. In fact, the use of marijuana increased from 32.6 percent in 1992 to 35.3 percent in 1993, along with LSD, which also increased from 8.6 to 10.3 percent. In addition, lifetime and annual use of inhalants among 8th graders increased between 1992 and 1993, from 17.4 to 19.4 percent. And a recent survey by the Department of Health and Human Services shows that far fewer students, only 54 percent, believe there is a great risk associated with occasional cocaine use. The Surgeon General is apparently undisturbed by these new findings.

Regrettably, the Clinton Administration has taken the lead in signaling surrender. Not only did the Administration slash funding for the Office of the Drug Czar by more than 80 percent (reducing staff from 146 to 25 positions), but it also cut the State Department's International Narcotics Matters (INM) budget by 32 percent, from $147 million to $100 million. President Clinton tried as well, though unsuccessfully, to cut $240 million in domestic drug programs. For the Department of Defense, he is proposing a $200 million reduction in interdiction efforts in the Caribbean. Finally, Attorney General Janet Reno announced that she wants to end mandatory sentencing guidelines for drug offenses as a way to alleviate prison crowding.

In the absence of any Clinton drug control policy, my Republican colleagues and I are reaffirming our position of no tolerance and are pushing a comprehensive crime control bill which calls for prison construction and parole reform as well as the death penalty for drug lords. I also support legislation introduced by Rep. Gerry Solomon that would prohibit using scarce federal funds to conduct any study or research involving the legalization of drugs.


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