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Last Updated:6/25/00
Speech by Rep. John Mica (R-Florida), June 20, 2000
DRUG ABUSE AND ILLEGAL NARCOTICS (House of Representatives - June 20, 2000)

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The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under the Speaker's announced policy of January 6, 1999, the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Mica) is recognized for 35 minutes as the designee of the majority leader.

Mr. MICA. Madam Speaker, tonight is Tuesday night and it is the night that I reserve to come before the House on the issue of illegal narcotics and how the problem of drug abuse and illegal narcotics affects our Nation and the impact that illegal narcotics has upon our society, this Congress, and the American people.

Tonight I want to provide a brief update of some of the information that we have obtained. Our subcommittee, which I am privileged to chair, the Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy, and Human Resources of the Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, has as one of its primary charters and responsibilities to help develop a coherent policy, at least from the perspective of the House of Representatives, and working with the other body, the United States Senate and also the White House, the administration, to come up with a coherent strategy to deal with the problem of drug abuse and illegal narcotics.

I have often cited on the floor the impact which really knows no boundaries today in the United States. Almost every family is affected in some way by drug abuse, illegal narcotics, or the ravages of drug-related overdose and death.

I have cited a most recent statistic, which is 15,973 Americans died in 1998, the last figures we have total for drug-related deaths. And according to our drug czar, Barry McCaffrey, who testified before our subcommittee, over 52,000 Americans died in the last recorded year of drug-related deaths either directly or indirectly.

We do not know the exact figure because sometimes a child who is beaten to death by a parent who is on illegal narcotics is not counted as a victim. Sometimes a spouse who is abused to the point of death is not counted as a victim. Sometimes a bus driver who is on an illegal narcotic that has had a fatal vehicle crash, the number of victims there are not counted in the tally. But we do know the total is dramatic.

This past week our subcommittee had the opportunity to hear from the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta and officials came in and briefed our subcommittee, some of the Members in the House, about some of the most recent findings. And the findings are quite alarming, particularly among our young people.

They confirm what most Americans know and what many parents fear, that illegal narcotics are more prevalent on our society. The study that they reviewed for the members of the subcommittee revealed, in fact, that there have been some dramatic increases in drug use and abuse among our young people.

I brought tonight some charts from that study and also from a study on national youth risk behavior. This shows the percentage of high school students who have used methamphetamines, some figures that show in 9th grade we were up to 6.3 percent, in 10th grade 9.3 percent, 11th grade 10 percent, and 12th grade 11 1/2 percent.

These are pretty dramatic figures when we stop and think that we are talking about young people and having as high a percentage as we have reported here have used methamphetamine. And methamphetamine, if my colleagues are not familiar with methamphetamine, can be more damaging and create more bizarre behavior than the crack epidemic that we had in the 1980s. To have these percentages of our young people having experimented or used methamphetamine is quite disturbing.

The other thing many people do not realize about methamphetamine is methamphetamine does an incredible job of destroying the brain and it is not a drug which allows you to have some replenishing of damaged brain cells. It is not a narcotic that leaves temporary damage. Methamphetamine induces an almost Parkinson's-like damage to the brain and does incredible damage and results in bizarre behavior.

Now, we have conducted hearings throughout the United States, some in California, some in Louisiana. Next Monday we will be in Sioux City, Iowa, the heartland of America, which is also experiencing an incredible methamphetamine epidemic. That area has been hit by Mexican methamphetamines and we have reports again of incredible numbers people throughout the Midwest, the far West, now in the South and East, who are falling victim to methamphetamine.

This chart should be a shocker to every parent out in America, to every Member of Congress who sees this. These are some pretty dramatic figures. When we stop and consider that these figures really were not even registering some 6 or 7 years ago, there was almost no meth available, shows that we have got to do a better job of first of all controlling the substance, law enforcement going after those who traffic in this deadly substance.

Also, it is absolutely incumbent that we do a better job in educating our young people and preventing people from getting hooked on this drug. Now, getting hooked on drugs is bad enough. But this drug does incredible damage, as I said.

We have had Dr. Leschner, who heads up the National Institute of Drug Abuse, testify before our subcommittee about the permanent damage that is done to the brain with this drug. This is not a question of addiction or use a little and come out of it. This is a question of becoming a victim of this. And the question of addiction is really too late for those who get on methamphetamine. There is no recovery. There is no turning back. Because they have induced some incredible damage to their brain and to their ability to function as a normal human being.

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Addiction and treatment might sound good and well-intended, but in fact methamphetamine is the end of the road for many people. Again this is absolutely a disturbing chart and figure to show us that 11.5 percent of our 12th graders are now reported having ever used methamphetamine, a shocking figure.

Another figure that we have from 1991-1992 during the beginning of this administration, we had about 2 percent of our high school students being reported as using cocaine. That figure in 1999 is now up to 4 percent, a 100 percent increase in cocaine use among our young people. This again is another dramatic increase in a hard and a very destructive narcotic. These figures are reported to us again last week by CDC and indicate a disturbing trend. This is in spite of the Congress, Republican and Democrat efforts to put together a massive educational campaign, $1 billion in public funding over a 3-year period supplemented by $1 billion in donated service and time toward that effort, so a multi-billion-dollar education campaign. I know some of my colleagues have seen those ads on television but quite frankly with the results that we are experiencing with our young people, we are missing the target. We see a dramatic increase in cocaine use, particularly among our young people, a skyrocketing figure for methamphetamine, both shocking for parents and again Members of Congress who have attempted, I think, to stem some of this illegal narcotics abuse.

This is the percentage of high school students who ever used cocaine from 1993. From the beginning of this administration to the current time we see a doubling in use, another dramatic figure. Somehow the message must have gotten lost in this period here, the beginning of this administration, that illegal narcotics were something that could be tolerated and possibly used and that is unfortunate that any message that condoned or gave any message other than `Just Say No.' Actually we have had incredible results from that lack of a direct specific message. A doubling again of the percentage of high school students who have ever used cocaine, disturbing, I am sure, to parents in the latest statistic we have from the Centers for Disease Control.

I think this next chart and again this information is provided to us by the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta to our subcommittee last week is another startling figure. Go back to 1991-1992. Thirty-one percent of the students had used marijuana in that period. Now we have almost half of the students reported last week, 1997-1999 have used marijuana. Many people refer to marijuana as a soft drug and maybe some of the boomers who used marijuana in college or in school in the 1960s and 1970s were not much affected by use of marijuana. Unfortunately, the marijuana that is on the streets today has very high levels of purity. We have some testimony in our subcommittee about the damage that the current high purity marijuana does to young people. I was shocked to learn, also, from NIDA, our National Institute of Drug abuse, that marijuana is now the most addictive narcotic. Even though it is again commonly referred to as a soft drug, it is the most addictive drug and it is also referred to as a gateway drug. So young people who think it is fashionable to use marijuana are on the increase. It is unfortunate that this administration gave sort of a `Just Say Maybe' policy with the appointment of a liberal and I think mixed message chief health officer of the United States and that officer was Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders and she said just say maybe. I do not think that the President of the United States really showed the leadership and provided the direction to get the message out to our young people about the problem of illegal narcotics use. That actually I think has been substantiated by a little research we did.

I mentioned last week, and we only had 15 minutes of special order last week, that a lady had come up to me during one of our recent visits home and she said, `I have never heard President Clinton talk about the war on drugs.' Out of curiosity, I had our staff run a tally of all of the public recorded accounts. I think most people have a computer or access to Nexus research which has most of the public statements recorded there can plug in `President Clinton' and then `the war on drugs.' What was absolutely startling is the President has referred to the war on drugs eight times, you can count it on just eight fingers, since he took office in public recorded statements, he has referred to the war on drugs. Basically what happened in 1992-1993 is we closed down the war on drugs.

If we take another chart and look at the drug use and abuse and prevalence particularly among our young people, we see a decline in the Bush and the Reagan administration, and then we see an incline during this administration, the administration tolerating this use, and it is recorded again in the drug figures that we see, some of them nearly doubling in drug use and abuse.

If methamphetamine, marijuana and cocaine are not bad enough, we see some dramatic increases in suburban teen heroin use. These statistics were just provided last month, in May. It shows that we have risen in suburban teen use from 500,000 in 1996 to nearly 1 million in 1999, a startling figure for one of the drugs again that is about as deadly as you can find on the streets across this land. The purity levels of the heroin that we are finding are not the purity levels again of the 1970s and 1980s. These drugs, this heroin is a deadly substance, sometimes 70 plus percent purity level. That is why we have incredible overdose deaths from heroin that is on the street today, another dramatic figure and another dramatic increase in a particularly deadly illegal narcotic.

One of the myths that we often hear and we had a debate on the House floor about whether we should restart the war on drugs. Again, I must point out to my colleagues that in fact the war on drugs was closed down by the Clinton administration in 1993. The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives, the Senate, and the White House from 1993 to 1995 did inestimable damage to what had formerly been a formal and organized war on drugs. They cut the source country program stopping drugs in a cost-effective manner at their source, certainly a Federal responsibility. They took the military out of the interdiction, and that was mainly a surveillance role in finding drugs and spotting drugs as they came from the source countries, certainly a role that local and State law enforcement cannot do, a responsibility of the Federal Government to protect us from a danger coming towards our border.

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They closed down and cut these programs by 50 percent, took the military out or deployed the military and other deployments around the globe, and what happened really was an emphasis to move toward treatment. They started putting all of the eggs in the treatment basket.

I often think of what they did as a little bit like fighting World War II or any armed conflict that we have been in. Can you imagine not going after the enemy; not going after the source of the destruction, the enemy's reigning on us? That is basically the strategy that was adopted, a strange strategy that actually said let us just treat the wounded in battle.

Of course, the policy and the legislation adopted by this Congress under the control of the democratic majority from 1992 to 1995 put the money into treatment, and we can see the trend. We often hear this debate, oh, we need to just treat people. We can treat our way out of this problem.

This is a chart that I had staff graph for us, and it shows Federal drug treatment has dramatically increased. We go up here to the period of 1992-1993, right in here, a steady amount of money going up, a little bit of leveling off during the takeover of the Republican control. Even under the Republican control, I am told in the last several years, we, the majority side, have increased treatment spending some 26 percent just in this period of time.

We have had a dramatic increase in treatment. The problem is we have an incredible addiction population, so we are getting more wounded in the battle, but not fighting the battle on all the fronts that are particularly a Federal obligation and cannot be fought by local or state officials.

This, again, I think debunks some of the myths that are out there that we do not spend enough money on treatment. We have doubled, in some cases tripled, the amount of money on treatment, and we have an incredibly larger and larger addicted population. Unfortunately, I do not think people pay much attention to what it means to be addicted. Once you get addicted, your chances of being cured are, at very best, with hard narcotics, about 50 percent.

Unfortunately, we have a 60 percent to 70 percent failure rate in our treatment programs that are public. The faith based and some of the other private treatment programs are much more successful. I will talk about Baltimore, which has one of the biggest addicted populations in the country, partly a direct result of a liberal drug policy, a policy where they have needle exchange, a policy where the former police chief had said, well, we are not going to enforce, not going after all the drug markets. We are not going to enforce the law. We are not going to take advantage of Federal law enforcement assistance to go after drug dealers and pushers and traffickers.

That policy has had a very dramatic effect in Baltimore. Baltimore, in fact, has had a steady number of murders which have exceeded 300 for each of the past recent years, while other areas like New York, with a zero tolerance policy, like Richmond, with the Project Exile going after tough enforcement, have cut the murders by some 50 percent in those cities and even more dramatically.

The zero tolerance policies, and we will show them, and the facts support this, it is not something I am making up, have worked and cut drug abuse and crime at every level across the board.

The tolerant liberal, the nonenforcement attitude of Baltimore has resulted in a disaster for that city by any measure, by deaths. The number of addicts in Baltimore have jumped, according to one city council person who has said publicly, 1 in 8 in the population, that is some 60,000 to 80,000 heroin and drug addicts in Baltimore as a result of a liberal policy, as a result of lack of enforcement, as a result of only going to a policy of treatment.

It has not worked. It does not work. And this is the path that we have been headed on, as far as Federal policy. This is an interesting chart that we had the staff make up, and we wanted to put altogether in one chart what we are doing with treatment.

People say we are not spending enough money again in treatment. This line here, this blue line shows treatment. It shows that on a steady increase we see what has happened in interdiction, dramatic decreases. They start in the period of the Clinton administration, where a Democrat-controlled House and Senate, the White House making a policy to cut interdiction.

These are international programs, that would be stopping drugs at their source; that is also cut. If we look at where we are heading, we are trying to get back to the 1992-1993 levels in terms of those dollars of that time in spending in international programs, again, stopping drugs at their source and also in the interdiction, getting the intelligence information.

If we have intelligence on people who are trafficking in narcotics, and it is real information, it is accurate information, we can go after those who are dealing in that death and destruction. When we cut that out, we have an incredible volume of illegal narcotics coming into the United States, and that is exactly what has happened now.

To compound the problem, what has happened is our major operations center for our illegal narcotics advance work for surveillance, going after drug traffickers was basically closed down last May 1 when the administration failed to negotiate with Panama for not keeping our military base open, but keeping our forward drug surveillance operations operating in Panama.

General Wilhelm who is in charge of our Southern Command. The Southern Command overlooks the drug production and trafficking zone. General Wilhelm provided our subcommittee a letter last week and said we are down to about a third of our former capability prior to the time that we had Panama open and the main center of operations for forward-operating locations.

This chart does again debunk that we are not concentrating on treatment. Certainly, we have put a ton of money in treatment. It is doubled as we saw from the other one. Where we have lost the momentum is going after these huge supplies of illegal narcotics, both at their source and on the way to our shores.

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Now, one of the things that we know is where these narcotics are coming from. This is not rocket science, it does not require a Ph.D. or a lot of study. We knew that in 1993, when this administration took over, that we had 90 percent of the cocaine coming from Bolivia, Peru, a tiny bit from Colombia. This chart shows Colombia and Andean cocaine production. This shows Colombia here, and you see very little produced, 1991-1992. These figures have not been doctored in any way. This is just graphing cocaine production in that era. Almost none in Colombia, most of it was coming from Peru, up here, and from Bolivia, about 90 percent of it.

The former chairman of the committee, the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Hastert), the Speaker of the House, and Mr. Zeliff, who came in immediately before him and had assumed the responsibility for helping develop a drug strategy under the new majority, said we know where these narcotics are coming from. Let us take a few dollars and put it in going after the drugs at their source. That is what was done in 1995 by the new majority.

We targeted three areas, Peru, Colombia and Bolivia. That is because those are the only places where they produce cocaine. We were able to establish programs in Peru and Bolivia with the cooperation of President Fujimori, which this administration has trashed recently and who won a legitimate reelection, and still this administration trashed. I can tell you, having gone to Lima, Peru, and visited Peru before President Fujimori took over, there was absolute chaos in the country. The production of narcotics was running rampant, terrorists were killing and maiming in the villages, the City of Lima was understood under siege, and President Fujimori went after the drug traffickers, shot down those that deal with death and destruction and drugs, and brought that country to the order and the prosperity it is now seeing. He, in fact, with a little tiny bit of our aid, just several millions of dollars, took Peru from a major producer down by some 50 percent reduction, in fact a 65 percent reduction is our latest figure, in cocaine production in Peru.

Bolivia, with the help of President Banzer, who took over, and we went down and discussed these programs, a little bit of assistance, some crop alternatives so the peasants would be growing something other than coca, and those programs work. There has been more than a 50 percent reduction in Bolivia of cocaine.

We pleaded with this administration to get aid and assistance to Colombia, the other producing area, and on every occasion the President blocked aid to Colombia; on every occasion the State Department thwarted our efforts to get even a few helicopters up into the Andean region to go after the coca that was being produced, and, if you want to get into heroin, there was no heroin produced to speak of in 1992-1993, the beginning of this administration.

So the direct policy of this administration and the liberals in the Congress helped make Colombia the producer of 80 to 90 percent of the cocaine in 6 years, and probably 75 percent of the heroin in 6 years. Until early this spring, the President and this administration never brought before the Congress any type of cooperative plan to deal with the situation in Colombia. Unfortunately, now it has caught up in the legislative process.

I call on my colleagues, Republicans and Democrats, to bring this forth. This plan works. This is not, again, rocket science. We can stop hard drugs from coming into our borders. We are not going to stop all of them, but this shows exactly what has taken place, and I think one of the most graphic portrayals that has been produced from our subcommittee.

Again, this should be the `chart of shame' for this administration and the policies of the other side. This shows in 1993 the production of cocaine and heroine produced in Colombia. 1993, almost nothing for cocaine. For heroin, in 1993, almost none produced in Colombia. Now it produces 75 percent.

Congratulations to the Clinton Administration. This is a great legacy, that you have managed to concentrate the drug production of two of the most deadly drugs in nearly 7 years here in one country in which you have blocked any assistance. It is an incredible legacy, and, unfortunately, it has resulted in a rash of epidemics of the use of these, particularly, as I just cited, according to the CDC report we got last week, among our young people, an incredible volume being produced in those countries.

Again, this is not rocket science. We know where it is coming from. We know heroin is coming out of Colombia, 75 percent being used in the United States. We know that by any seizure that is done around the United States.

Madam Speaker, to wind this up, we do need a bipartisan and cooperative effort. We must learn by the mistakes that have been made. We must learn by putting together a plan that does work and move forward with it. Next week, hopefully, we will have an hour to tell the rest of the story, as Paul Harvey says.

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