Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Statement by the President Upon Signing Bill Relating to Traffic in or Possession of Drugs Such as LSD.

October 25, 1968

I HAVE SIGNED a bill that increases the criminal penalty for those who illegally possess or traffic in harmful drugs such as LSD.

In February of this year I sent to the Congress a special message on crime. In it I called for many new steps to strengthen our hand in dealing with lawlessness. The Congress and the Nation have responded constructively to these recommendations:

--the Safe Streets Act,

--the Juvenile Delinquency Prevention Act,

--gun control legislation,

--new laws to combat alcoholism,

--new powers to deal with those who riot in our cities, and combat organized crime.

In addition to these important new steps, I called for a concentrated drive to cope with the growing problem of narcotics and dangerous drugs. The activities of this year mark a new high in this effort which is so essential to the well-being of young people.

First, we created a new Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs in the Justice Department.

Second, we have steadily increased manpower to support the Federal law enforcement role.

Third, we have redoubled our efforts to develop effective treatment for addiction and to educate our youth to the hazards of drugs.

Today we are taking a fourth step. I am signing into law a bill to increase the penalty for the sale or manufacture of LSD, and to impose, for the first time, a penalty for its possession.

Under this bill the illegal manufacture, sale or distribution of LSD and similar drugs is made a felony, punishable by 5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. The illegal possession of such a drug is made a misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in prison and a $1,000 fine.

All Americans interested in effective law enforcement will take satisfaction that this needed bill is becoming law today. It is measures like this--and not talk about crime-that strengthen the hand of our police and give our families protection.

These laws, plus adequate enforcement resources, give us the tools to fight the trafficker in narcotics and drugs. But let us never forget that this is just one part of our effort to protect society from this threat. The real answer--the final answer--lies in the education of our children, through our schools, through local civic groups, through our churches, and most important, through our families. Our criminal laws will put the drug peddler in jail. But to put him and his kind permanently out of business we need the active support and understanding of every adult and young citizen of this Nation.


Note: As enacted, the bill (H.R. 14096), approved on October 24, 1968, is Public Law 90-639 (82 Stat. 1361).

For the President's special message to Congress of February 7 on crime and law enforcement, see Item 59.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Statement by the President Upon Signing Bill Relating to Traffic in or Possession of Drugs Such as LSD. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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