African-American Group Blasts “So What” Attitude of Clinton Administration Toward Drugs: New Study Shows Lack of Presidential Leadership Linked to Rise in Teenage Illicit Drug Use – August 1996

Contact: Arturo Silva at (202) 507-6398 or [email protected]

Citing a new study showing the highest levels of drug use and acceptance of drugs by teenagers in decades, the African-American leadership group Project 21 says the Clinton Administration is partly to blame because of its casual attitude toward illegal drug use.

“Press secretary Michael McCurry’s relaxed attitude toward his own drug use, the Clinton Administration’s hiring of recent drug users, and President Clinton’s virtual silence on the evils of illegal drug use before this election year show a disturbing pattern of behavior from this White House,” says Project 21 member Horace Cooper, Legislative Counsel to Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX). “And that behavior has carried over into the attitudes and actions of teenagers in this country. The ‘Say No to Drugs’ attitude of the Reagan Administration has been replaced by the ‘So What’ attitude of the Clinton Administration.”

Among the findings in The National Center for Public Policy Research study, National Policy Analysis #145, “Giving Back Gained Ground: The Clinton Administration and the War on Drugs”:

  • A University of Michigan Monitoring the Future study shows that the percentage of teens using marijuana within the past 12 months exploded between 1991 and 1995: from 6.2% to 15.8% among 8th graders, from 16.5% to 28.7% among 10th graders, and from 23.9% to 34.7% among 12th graders.
  • The Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse has found that 12-17 year olds who use marijuana are 85 times more likely to use cocaine than those who abstain from marijuana.
  • According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the number of marijuana-related emergency room episodes have increased 155% since 1990, and cocaine-related episodes have increased 40% since 1988.
  • The National Household Survey on Drug Abuse found that the rate of current illicit drug use increased for youth 12-17 years old between 1993 and 1994 (from 6.6% to 9.5%), after declining from 18.5% in 1979 to 6.1% in 1992.
  • The U.S. Justice Department reports that between 1992 and 1995, 227 agent positions were eliminated from the Drug Enforcement Agency.

“President Clinton is an expert at dodging wars,” says Amy Moritz, President of The National Center for Public Policy Research. “First it was the Vietnam War, now it’s the Drug War. To those who have been fighting on the front lines to reduce illegal drug use, especially among teenagers, the President’s attitude has been the equivalent of friendly fire. Masquerading as their ally, the President’s words and actions have only hindered the efforts of the police, parents and others valiantly fighting the horror of the criminal drug culture.”

“The increase in drug use does not surprise me,” says Project 21 member Council Nedd, an investigator on the staff of the U.S. House Subcommittee on Government Management. “The occupants of the White House keep forgetting that morality is not a private luxury to acknowledge or overlook at will. If we have the Administration, presumably educated adults, behaving in this fashion, how can we expect children to take this issue seriously?”

For an interview with Amy Moritz or a Project 21 member, contact Arturo Silva at (202) 507-6398 or [email protected] For a copy of the study visit http://www.nationalcenter.org under Hot Topics.

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