Remarks on Signing the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970
Mr. Attorney General, Mr. Ingersoll, ladies and gentlemen:
I will in a very few moments be signing this piece of legislation which deals with the problem that the Attorney General has described.
Fifteen months ago I sent an urgent request to the Congress for legislation in this field. I requested it because our survey of the problem of drugs indicated that it was a major cause of street crime in the United States.
Those who have a drug habit find it necessary to steal, to commit crimes, in order to feed their habit. We found also, and all Americans are aware of this, that drugs are alarmingly on the increase in use among our young people. They are destroying the lives of hundreds of thousands of young people all over America, not just of college age or young people in their twenties, but the great tragedy: The uses start even in junior high school, or even in the late grades.
Under these circumstances, this is a national problem. It requires an urgent action on the part of the Federal Government and that action now has been taken by the Congress and, after 15 months, finally the bill will be signed.
I should, however, indicate to you the limitations that this bill has. It does some things which Mr. Ingersoll will approve of and which the Attorney General has asked for. It provides over 300 new agents. New agents who will be able to do this kind of work that Mr. Ingersoll has just described.
It provides for jurisdiction that we have not previously had. The jurisdiction of the Attorney General will go far beyond, for example, heroin. It will cover the new types of drugs, the barbiturates and the amphetamines that have become so common and that are even more dangerous because of their use. And also it provides a very forward-looking program in the field of drug addiction.
This is enormously important. That is one of the reasons that the Department of HEW is represented here, as well as other departments in this field, because once the individual who gets hooked on drugs is in that condition, he is one that we must have sympathy for. We must do everything that we can to cure his habit if it is possible to cure it. Some new cures are being developed, and this will mean that we will have a nationwide program and an effective one in this field where we have not had one before. But this is what the law can do.
We can provide, as we do, more men. We can provide greater jurisdiction. We can deal with the problem of addiction. But there needs to be public support. And I urge all who may be listening to this signing ceremony to remember that in every home in America, in every school in America, in every church in America, over the television and radio media of this country, in our newspapers, the message needs to get through, that this Nation faces a major crisis in terms of the increasing use of drugs, particularly among our young people.
We can deal with it. We have the laws now. We are going to go out and enforce those laws. But in order for those laws to mean anything they must have public support.
There must be knowledge, knowledge among the parents, knowledge among the children, which can only come from wide public information programs.
And therefore, I hope that at the time the Federal Government is moving, as we are moving very strongly in this field, that the whole Nation will join with us in a program to stop the rise in the use of drugs and thereby help to stop the rise in crime; and also save the lives of hundreds of thousands of our young people who otherwise would become hooked on drugs and be physically, mentally, and morally destroyed.
Note: The President spoke at 10:10 a.m. in the offices of the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. John E. Ingersoll was Director, Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, Department of Justice.
As enacted, the bill (H.R. 18583) is Public Law 91-513 (84 Stat. 1236).
A summary of the provisions of the act was released by the White House on the same day.
Richard Nixon, Remarks on Signing the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/240103