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Clinton Unveils New Drug Strategy


WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Feb. 25) -- President Bill Clinton, saying "there is no more urgent priority," unveiled a new anti-drug strategy today that includes more money for advertising, drug courts and anti-smuggling efforts along the Mexican border. (288K WAV sound)

In a briefing, Clinton acknowledged that drug use is up among youth and teenagers and proposed $175 million for a new national advertising campaign.

Clinton said he wants the private sector to contribute matching funds, so that any youngster who watches television "should not be able to escape these messages."


The president, flanked by Vice President Al Gore and drug czar Barry McCaffrey, said the nation's drug-control strategy should focus on the formative, adolescent years.

"I think we need to look at this in terms of the safety of our children," he said. (288K WAV sound)

In all, Clinton proposes to spend $16 billion on anti-drug efforts, which the White House said is the most ever. It's also an $800 million increase over the current, fiscal year 1997 budget.

Other goals announced by the president:

  • Reduce drug-related crime and violence by vigorous enforcement of the laws, but with an emphasis on prevention as well.
  • Eliminate the social consequences of drug use, by working to end both casual and chronic drug use.
  • Do more to shield the nation's frontiers against drug trafficking. Money already in the administration's proposed 1998 budget, Clinton said, will bring "considerable reinforcement" to the borders.
  • Work more closely with local officials, starting with a May 21 drug control conference for mayors at the White House.

"We did not create this problem overnight, and it will not be solved overnight," Clinton said.


In the past, the Clinton Administration has been criticized for a lackadaisical, half-hearted approach to illegal drug use.

Clinton was pummeled last year by rival Bob Dole for his lighthearted remarks about his own experimentation with marijuana. Dole, who suggested "Just Don't Do It" as an anti-drug slogan, cited 1992 MTV footage of the president joking with teenagers that, were he to try marijuana again, he'd inhale.

"Sure, if I could," Clinton laughingly said. "I tried before." Clinton said later he was sorry he had used drugs.

What particularly concerns many anti-drug crusaders is the upswing in drug use among youth, after declines in the 1980s. One drug, heroin, has found new popularity in the '90s.

During the briefing, Clinton did not directly indicate whether the U.S. intends to re-certify Mexico as eligible for anti-drug assistance. The action, due before March 1, had been considered a formality until that country's top anti-drug official was arrested on charges he had ties with drug traffickers.

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