Remarks at a Meeting of
the White House Conference for a Drug Free
The President. Thank you very much,
Lois. And let me just say here how much
of us are here today to talk about the campaign for a drug free
fighting the crusade for a drug free
The results? Last year, Federal drug
agents confiscated over half a billion dollars' worth of drug-related assets.
They closed down 682 clandestine laboratories. And they seized 92,000 pounds of
cocaine. These are all records. We've taken fleets of airplanes, boats, and
trucks from smugglers and dealers. I visited
get around us, smugglers have had to find new ways of hiding their product.
We've discovered drugs in hollowed out lumber and in bathrooms and luggage
compartments in airplanes. One morning in
And that's how we're fighting on what you might call the supply side of the crusade against drugs. But as significant as stopping smugglers and pushers is, ending the demand for drugs is how, in the end, we'll win. That's why the best news I've heard in a long time was the recently released annual survey of high school seniors. For 13 years we have asked thousands of graduating seniors what drugs they use, how often, and what they think about drug abuse. For the first time a substantially smaller proportion of the seniors -- one third smaller -- acknowledged current cocaine use than did the year before. Use of marijuana and amphetamines is also dropping. Better still, almost all students said it was wrong even to try a drug like cocaine.
With all the headlines about how we're losing the drug war, let's keep in mind the progress we've made. Many drug-related problems now are not because more people are turning to drugs -- in fact, the number of users has leveled off and may be falling -- but because so many got hooked when the message went out that illegal drugs were acceptable.
conference couldn't have happened 8 years ago -- not enough people cared. Now
almost everyone cares. Your communities are looking to you for leadership. So,
let me ask you to take back home the message that illegal drugs are one thing
no community in America can, should, or needs to tolerate -- in schools, in
workplaces, in the streets, anywhere.
rather than go any further, I'll stop here. President Eisenhower once said that
the great thing about this job was no one could tell you to sit down.
[Laughter] Well, almost no one. [Laughter]
Mrs. Reagan. Thank you, Mr. President. I know who's boss in the family. [Laughter] I can't tell you how good it feels to be here at this conference with so many people united in a common purpose. Although the drug problem is still destructive, the Nation has come a long way in its battle against drugs, and your presence here today proves it.
At least we realize there is a drug problem today. In Saturday's Washington Post, there was one page in which every article was a local drug story. And there was another local drug story on the front page. We must face the fact that drugs are tearing our communities apart.
I've been deeply concerned about this problem since my days in
few weeks ago the drug cartel murdered
notion that the mellow marijuana user doesn't hurt anyone is just as phony. As
a result of an intensive effort by the Drug Enforcement Administration in
you know, many others have had their lives taken to protect our society from
the corruption of drugs. Two DEA agents in
The casual user may think when he takes a line of cocaine or smokes a joint in the privacy of his nice condo, listening to his expensive stereo, that he's somehow not bothering anyone. But there is a trail of death and destruction that leads directly to his door. The casual user cannot morally escape responsibility for the action of drug traffickers and dealings. I'm saying that if you're a casual drug user you're an accomplice to murder. The casual user also cannot morally escape association with those who use drugs and then endanger the public safety. The message from casual use is that drugs are acceptable, that they can be handled, that somehow it's simply a matter of dosage. Casual use sets the tone for tolerance and that tolerance has killed.
and Arthur Johnson are from
The investigation determined that the engineer and brakeman on the Conrail train were smoking marijuana prior to the crash -- 16 people killed because of an engineer's personal indulgence in a joint of marijuana. Now, don't tell the Johnsons that casual drug use is a victimless crime. And don't try to tell the Johnsons that drugs hurt no one but the user. Several of the families of the victims who were killed in the wreck testified before the Senate last week in favor of mandatory drug testing for railroad personnel. The engineer and the brakeman also called for such testing, saying that alcohol and drug use was widespread within the industry. Senator Danforth told the families: ``You won't win this quickly; you have to fan the flame of rage.'' And that's exactly what we must do -- we must fan the flame of rage.
Ladies and gentlemen, I want to make it impossible for casual users to escape responsibility for any innocent death due to drugs. I want to make them fully face the brutality of drug use. I don't mind admitting that I have reservations about telling the following two stories, because they're real stories of anguish and inhuman brutality. Yet Betty Jean Spencer and Vince and Roberta Roper can't ignore the brutality of drugs. They live with it every day. They're with us today, and if they can't forget, neither should we.
let me tell you about Betty Jean Spencer. Mrs. Spencer was at home in her rural
That's a brutal, brutal story. And it makes me angry. And no one -- absolutely no one -- should be allowed to say that drug use is a victimless crime. No one should be able to get away with the argument that drugs are a harmless, private indulgence.
let me tell you about the nightmare that Vince and Roberta Roper must endure.
Their daughter, Stephanie, a 22-year-old student, was returning to school in
Now, who would dare stand before the Ropers and tell them that drug use is a victimless crime? What apologist for casual drug use will look the Ropers in the eye and say it's all a matter of moderation? Who could be so brazen? Yet the attitude prevails.
Applause isn't appropriate, but a hug or a squeeze of the hand when you leave might mean a lot. But I'd like to introduce you to Betty Jean Spencer, and Anne and Arthur Johnson -- [applause] -- Vince and Roberta Roper. Thank you. [Applause] Let's each of us help here: Promise them that we won't let anyone forget the brutality of drugs.
You know, in the field of drug and alcohol abuse there's something called the enabling concept: If I don't do something about your behavior, then I enable it to happen. Society's attitude has enabled the casual drug user to avoid facing his role in the murder and brutality behind drugs. We can no longer let the casual user continue without paying the moral penalty.
We must be absolutely unyielding and inflexible in our opposition to drug use. There's no middle ground. We must be as adamant about the casual user as we are about the addict. And whereas the addict deserves our help, the casual user deserves our condemnations, because he could easily stop, and yet he chooses not to do so. He must be made to feel the burden of brutality and corruption for which he's ultimately responsible. We must get the message out: We will not stand for illicit drug use of any kind -- period.
there's another message I'd like to get out to all of you here today, and
that's a message of gratitude for your involvement in the fight against drugs.
You're the people who will eventually turn the tide. You're the ones who will
make the difference. Many of you have been with me from the very beginning in
one capacity or another. And I want you to know that when my husband and I
Anne Morrow Lindbergh once wrote: ``One can never pay in gratitude, one can only pay `in kind' somewhere else in life.'' And I'm hoping that this center will be one way I may repay all of you for the support and love and encouragement you've given me over the past 8 years. Thank you for your support, and thank you for what you're doing for our nation.
Note: The President spoke at in the Regency Ballroom at the Omni Shoreham Hotel. In his opening remarks, the President referred to Lois H. Herrington, chairman and executive director of the Conference.