Message to the Congress Transmitting Proposed Legislation To Combat Drug Abuse and Trafficking

 

September 15, 1986

 

To the Congress of the United States:

 

I am pleased to transmit today for your immediate consideration and enactment the ``Drug-Free America Act of 1986.'' This proposal is one of the most important, and one of the most critically needed, pieces of legislation that my Administration has proposed. I strongly encourage the Congress to act upon this proposal before its adjournment.

 

Drugs are menacing our Nation. When Nancy and I spoke to the Nation last evening about what we Americans can do to win the fight against illegal drugs, we said that it is time to pull together. All Americans -- in our schools, our jobs, our neighborhoods -- must work together. No one level of government, no single institution, no lone group of citizens can eliminate the horror of drug abuse. In this national crusade, each of us is a critical soldier.

 

From the beginning of my Administration, I pledged to make the fight against drug abuse one of my highest priorities. We have taken strong steps to turn the tide against illegal drugs. To reduce the supply of drugs available in our country, we moved aggressively against the growers, producers, transporters, smugglers, and traffickers. Our spending for drug law enforcement has nearly tripled since 1981. To reduce demand, we plotted a course to encourage those who use drugs to stop and those who do not, never to begin. I am especially pleased at the success that the military has experienced, reducing drug usage by over 67 percent among our Armed Forces. And as a direct result of Nancy's leadership and commitment, over 10,000 ``Just Say No'' clubs have been formed throughout the United States over the past few years to discourage drug use among our youth.

 

Today I am announcing a set of initiatives that will build upon what we have already accomplished. This set of initiatives, totaling almost $900 million in Fiscal Year 1987 in additional resources targeted to ridding our society of drugs, brings our total Federal contribution for fighting drugs to over $3 billion. Our initiatives are composed of several separate budget amendments; a six-title bill seeking stronger authority for our law enforcement personnel, both at home and abroad, increased penalties for taking part in the sale of illegal drugs, and establishing a new program to help our schools reach our youngsters before drugs reach them; and an Executive order setting the example for our Nation's workplaces by achieving a drug-free Federal work force.

 

Through separate budget amendments that I will soon transmit, I will request $100 million for State grants to enhance our capacity in this country to treat drug users. We must put a stop to the tragedy of a drug user who seeks help and cannot get urgently needed treatment. I will request $34 million for increased research into the most successful rehabilitation and treatment methods. Our expanded research will include a focus on better ways to intervene with high-risk children and adolescents. I will also request $69 million for grants to communities that show they can pull together to fight the scourge in their neighborhoods. Federal matching funds will be made available to help these communities to increase education, prevention, and rehabilitation efforts. Finally, I will submit a request for additional funds for other intervention, education, and prevention assistance from the Federal government.

 

Our law enforcement and interdiction efforts must be increased as well. I will propose substantial increased funding -- approximately $400 million in 1987 -- for a major new enforcement initiative along our southwest border. A similar initiative will be proposed for our southeast border, involving at least $100 million in added funds.

 

I will be proposing shortly appropriate budget amendments to ensure that these necessary funds are made available. At the same time, other activities will be scaled back in order not to add to the Federal deficit.

 

The legislation I transmit today, the ``Drug-Free America Act of 1986,'' is the second component of the greatly increased anti-drug abuse effort to which I have pledged my Administration. This legislation is a six-titled measure that, when enacted, will be the cornerstone of our efforts.

 

Title I, the ``Drug-Free Federal Workplace Act of 1986,'' enables the Federal government, as the Nation's largest employer, to set an example in ensuring a drug-free workplace. The enactment of this title will make clear that the use of illegal drugs by current or prospective Federal employees will not be tolerated.

 

Title II of the bill, the ``Drug-Free Schools Act of 1986,'' authorizes a major new grant program -- at $100 million in 1987 -- to assist State and local governments in establishing drug-free learning environments in elementary and secondary schools.

 

Title III, the ``Substance Abuse Services Amendments of 1986,'' responds to the grave health threat that the use of illegal drugs presents. It extends, from Fiscal Year 1988 through Fiscal Year 1992, the block grant under which funds are made available to the States for alcohol and drug abuse and mental health programs, and eliminates several unnecessary restrictions contained in current law that limit the flexibility of the States in putting these funds to work where they are most needed.

 

Title IV, the ``Drug Interdiction and International Cooperation Act of 1986,'' emphasizes the need for increased and better international cooperation in the fight against drugs. This important set of proposals improves the procedures used in seizing the proceeds of narcotics-related crimes committed in other countries, facilitates the participation of United States law enforcment personnel in drug enforcement operations abroad, and ensures that aliens in this country who are convicted of illegal drug offenses can be deported.

 

Title V, the ``Anti-Drug Enforcement Act of 1986,'' contains several measures that make available the necessary tools to our law enforcement personnel and our courts to ensure that those convicted of illegal drug offenses are both suitably punished and deprived of the fruits of their unlawful labors. This title also substantially increases penalties for drug trafficking and establishes additional penalties for persons who take advantage of and employ juveniles in drug trafficking. This title provides the tools to go after the manufacturers of ``designer drugs,'' and hits drug traffickers in their pocketbooks by cracking down hard on money laundering, a practice widely used to conceal the illegal origin of large amounts of cash.

 

Finally, Title VI, the ``Public Awareness and Private Sector Initiatives Act of 1986,'' encourages the increased cooperation between the private sector and the government in educating the public about the hazards of drug abuse.

 

I applaud the Congress for grappling with the drug abuse problem on a timely basis, and I urge speedy consideration of these proposals. But I do not for a moment suggest that enactment of these legislative proposals will result, by itself, in the elimination of illegal drugs in America. This can only happen when all Americans join together in the fight against drugs. Prompt enactment by the Congress of this package of our legislative proposals is an essential step in our plan to eliminate drug abuse.

 

Today, I underscore my commitment to this effort by signing the third component of my Administration's anti-drug initiative, an Executive order that supports the objectives contained in Title I of the proposed legislation. The Executive Order puts in place the policy that the use of drugs by Federal employees, either on duty or off duty, will not be tolerated. I am directing the head of each Federal agency to develop a plan to achieve a drug-free workplace and authorizing drug testing for applicants for all Federal jobs and for employees in certain sensitive positions. I am directing that programs to counsel, treat, and rehabilitate employees found to be using illegal drugs be expanded.

 

Over the years, our country has never hesitated to defend itself against the attack of any enemy, however formidable and whatever the odds. In many ways, the enemy facing us now -- illegal drugs -- is as formidable as any we have ever encountered. As a result of the combined actions of all Americans we will achieve the goal we all seek -- a drug-free America for ourselves and for our children.

 

Ronald Reagan

 

The White House,

 

September 15, 1986.