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Remarks at a White House Briefing on the 1991 National Drug Control Strategy

January 31, 1991

Thank you all very much. Please be seated. I wanted to come over here first to thank many people in this room, so many of you having in one way or another -- directly, some indirectly -- helping us formulate and now put into effect the National Drug Control Strategy. I know that many of you have been instrumental in the development and the implementation of it. And I really am very, very grateful to each and every one of you.

As all of you know, our first Drug Strategy, released nearly a year and a half ago, recognized the need for a comprehensive approach. Indeed, I think it's the first time the Government has formulated a comprehensive approach: effective law enforcement, drug prevention programs for our schools and communities, more and increasingly effective drug treatment, coordinated border interdiction, and a greater role for international diplomacy.

Our strategy is comprehensive. Our strategy is sound. Our strategy works. And the thrust of our strategy remains the same: cutting down the supply and then suppressing the demand.

We've called on every part of the administration to work closely together. And that's why I was particularly pleased to be joined by those who are up here with me and then Judge Sessions -- Bill Sessions -- and Reg and Bill Moss and others here; Dick Thornburgh, Attorney General; and then Lou Sullivan on the health side, as we do put more emphasis on prevention and on treatment; and then John Walters, of course, who's doing a superb job.

I am very pleased to report that, thanks to your efforts and the dedicated efforts of so many -- and I was briefed yesterday on the volunteer aspect of this, the communities all across the country that are helping -- I would say so many individuals and community leaders across the country -- the signs of progress are unmistakable. The clear message of available data is that drug use is on the way down. Since I've come into office, we've seen an important and an encouraging shift in drug use trends.

Last December, we came out with new data that showed that drug use is declining. Not only is all casual drug use down but hospitals are reporting fewer cocaine-related emergencies and fewer cocaine-related deaths. And just last week, Dr. Sullivan's HHS announced the results of an annual survey that showed that cocaine use among high school seniors is at its lowest point in years. These numbers can only bode well for the future. And if fewer high school seniors are using drugs today, I think we're going to have a lot fewer drug problems tomorrow.

While this is welcome news, you might ask: Can we lessen our commitment to stopping the scourge of drugs? Can we afford to look elsewhere, lose interest? Can we declare victory? And, of course, the answer is an emphatic no.

The strategy that we're releasing today is intended to make sure that the favorable trends that we've been following keep right on going in that same direction -- down. And that's why we're putting more agents on the streets, hiring more prosecutors in the courtrooms, and building more prisons. And as we encourage more people to stop using drugs, we intend to provide them with more help. And I'm again requesting a substantial increase in Federal drug treatment spending.

I'm particularly proud of a new $100-million proposal designed to expand our drug treatment capacity. And that means as many as 200,000 more people will receive help to get off and hopefully stay off drugs during fiscal 1992.

This strategy will also provide more funding for drug prevention and more resources for cooperative efforts with our Latin American allies who are helping to stop the drug trade at the source.

In total, we're proposing a drug budget of $11.7 billion, an 11-percent increase over the last fiscal year and an 82-percent increase just since the beginning of our administration. This additional funding will help keep the pressure on. And I believe it persuasively demonstrates that our administration is committed to defeating the menace of drugs and that that commitment is unswerving. In fact, it is growing stronger, and I want to do my part in helping all of you and have the American people understand that.

In our first strategy we proposed a set of ambitious 2-year objectives. And I'm pleased to report that we have achieved those goals; in some cases we've surpassed them. In this strategy we've set new and more ambitious goals because, as everyone knows, a drug problem persists, creating misery wherever it flourishes. Let me just assure everyone that we will go after these new goals as vigorously as we pursued the last ones.

I know we're looking forward to bringing Governor Bob Martinez on board, taking Bill Bennett's place. He has the necessary experience on the front lines, if you will, the necessary commitment to fully implement this strategy.

In closing, again I want to thank you, the individuals who are helping make this strategy work, putting in the long hours and making everyone proud, very proud indeed, of our Federal effort.

Thank you very much. And now I understand that John Walters will conduct a briefing to flesh out some of what I've said here. But I think the bottom line is this nation simply must succeed in this fight. And, you know, I expect some wonder whether I am totally preoccupied with events halfway around the world. And I really wanted to take this opportunity to come over here to you who have done so much in this fight to let you know you're not alone. And I will do my level best to support you every inch of the way.

Thank you all very, very much.

Note: The President spoke at 1:55 p.m. in Room 450 of the Old Executive Office Building. In his remarks, he referred to William S. Sessions, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; William P. Moss, Chairman of the President's Drug Advisory Council; Attorney General Dick Thornburgh; Secretary of Health and Human Services Louis W. Sullivan; and the following officials of the Office of National Drug Control Policy: Reggie B. Walton, Associate Director for State and Local Affairs; John P. Walters, Chief of Staff and Acting Director; Bob Martinez, Director-designate; and William J. Bennett, former Director.

George Bush, Remarks at a White House Briefing on the 1991 National Drug Control Strategy Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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