Pubdate: Wed, 13 Feb 2002
Source: Inquirer (PA)
Copyright: 2002 Philadelphia Newspapers Inc
Author: Seth Borenstein


He proposed $357 million more for the drug fight. One goal: A 10 percent
drop in usage in two years.

WASHINGTON - Seeking to cut illegal drug use by 10 percent in two years,
President Bush yesterday unveiled a new national drug policy that emphasizes

The President is proposing to spend $357 million more next year on antidrug
efforts. He wants two-thirds of that - $224 million - to go toward drug
treatment and research.

In total, the President is seeking to spend $19.2 billion to fight illegal
drugs, a problem he said "wreaks havoc on the very fabric that provides
stability for our society."

To fight drugs, many advocate strict punishment for offenders while others
favor treatment. Republicans usually push for prison time for offenders, but
Bush, in unveiling his antidrug strategy, took a different tack.

"We must aggressively promote drug treatment," the President said. "Because
a nation that is tough on drugs must also be compassionate to those addicted
to drugs. Today, there are 3.9 million drug users in America who need, but
who did not receive, help. And we've got to do something about that. We've
got to help."

This will mean an increase in residential treatment facilities, perhaps even
in neighborhoods that could initially resist them, said John Walters, the
White House drug-policy director.

"It's a challenge to our compassion," Walters said. He also emphasized
continued treatment for recovering addicts to make sure they stay drug-free.

"We're really pleased that it is focusing more on treatment," said Pat
Ford-Roegner, executive director of the Association of Addiction
Professionals, a trade group for counselors based in Alexandria, Va. "We
certainly have a president at this point who understands the struggle with
addiction. I do think personal experience is important to realize that a lot
more needs to be done. This is an issue that faces every American family."

During the 2000 campaign, Bush admitted being a heavy social drinker in the
past. In 1986, the morning after his 40th birthday, he quit.

More recently, the President's niece Noelle Bush, daughter of Florida Gov.
Jeb Bush, checked into drug treatment after being arrested on charges of
illegally trying to obtain prescription drugs.

The Bush antidrug strategy also includes prevention and efforts to stop drug

"We're determined to limit drug supply, to reduce demand, and to provide
addicts with effective and compassionate drug treatment," the President said
from the East Room. "Each of these steps is essential and they're

In trying to limit demand, the President argued that drug abusers,
especially buyers of heroin originating in Afghanistan and cocaine from
Colombia, were helping to finance terrorism.

That argument featured prominently in an ad campaign that debuted during the
Super Bowl.

Those ads - featuring terrorists who attest that their money comes from
naive drug users - will continue for four to eight weeks at a cost of $10
million, Walters said. That's part of an overall $180 million antidrug
advertising campaign.

"Make no mistake about it," Bush said. "If you're buying illegal drugs in
America, it is likely that money is going to end up in the hands of
terrorist organizations."

The President's policy has two goals: Reduce drug use by 10 percent after
two years compared with the year 2000, and cut drug use by 25 percent after
five years.
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