Drug Legalization Hearing 1
From Washington Maryland Public Television is bringing you live coverage of the House Select Committee on narcotics hearings on drug legalization. Here is npt News correspondent Dave durian. Good morning everyone from outside the hearing room in the Cannon House Office Building in Washington D.C. It is now we understand t minus one hour 58 minutes and counting for a spectacular event down the East Coast from us here in Washington D.C. But we are expecting no less a pyrotechnics spectacle here in now T minus 28 minutes and still counting. Depending upon your point of view of the proposition to be discussed in the hashed over the next couple of days before this House Select Committee on narcotics abuse boils down to one of either two sides the war on drugs is another Vietnam is a war we're losing it's a war we can't win and if we lack the resolve if we lack the resources if we finally face up to the fact that you cannot legislate morality then let's call drug abuse what it is a medical and not a legal problem in other words let's turn the war over to the surgeon general instead of the attorney
general as somebody put it. The view that drugs are bad because drugs are illegal on the other hand the other view we're going to be hearing these next couple of days we are making some progress in the war on drugs. Congress is of a get tough mind these days if you've been following the actions of the House and Senate the last couple of weeks. There is some evidence lately that young people are turning off drugs. In America. And we can and should legislate morality. Drugs are illegal because drugs are bad is the other view. Well these are the positions you'll be hearing with varying degrees of intensity and fervor over the next day and a half or two days of hearings here in Washington D.C. and inside in the hearing room covering it all for us is former CBS law correspondent and veteran Washington reporter Fred Graham. Well thank you Dave and welcome to all of you viewers out there who are watching us this morning. You know rarely has an idea for legislation taken on in the United States with such force and impact and speed as the idea that drugs should simply be
legalized as alcohol was. At the end of prohibition it's an idea that's clearly been fueled by hate and an obvious failure of conventional means of wars on drugs wars on crime and other efforts to simply prevent the availability of drugs. But obviously many people can including some politicians are extremely worried and horrified at the thought of simply legalizing drugs. And one of those people is the chairman of the committee that has called this hearing today. Representative Charles Rangle of New York and I've been covering these hearings for many years here in Washington. I've never seen one that was announced with quite the same tone as this one. Now I want to have in my hand here is is a familiar press release to those of us in Washington. And it's the one that Representative wrangle issued when he called this committee hearing. He lists a number of questions that he intends to ask and he makes it very clear that he is
not entering these hearings with an open mind and he says he opposes this and that he hopes that after asking these questions of the proponents of the idea quote as he puts it here. That very dangerous idea of legalization of drugs will be put to rest once and for all and we can get on with a strategy and a war against drugs the drugs which are destroying our children. So this will be in some ways unlike any hearing that you've seen of this from a congressional hearing room. It should be interesting it should be quite feisty at times. And we look forward to it. We're going to have Congressman Rangle right here in a moment. I'm going to interview him for you. But while we're waiting for him to come up here for the interview and I go back today durian and he has some film to show you on the same side but at an earlier occasion. Thank you Fred. As you may know decriminalization or legalization of drugs and that's a differentiation we'll be getting into during the day and a half two days of hearings here decriminalization is not
really a new idea but it is a controversy by the mayor of Baltimore Maryland Kurt Schmoke at a conference of U.S. mayors recently. He called for at least a national debate on the advisability the possibility of decriminalizing or or legalize drugs and he has by all accounts gotten what he asked for and a lot more than that. This is what he wanted was a national debate. But here is a sample of what some of current smokes fellow urban mayors have told this committee already. 70 percent of the crime in the city of Newark New Jersey is drug related. We don't have to tell you how many millions of dollars that involves in the city of New York. I know of no greater crisis in our city than a challenge to rid our City of this great evil. The whole generation of young people being threatened I come to the palace to speak as a father whose son was shot three times and left for dead on the streets of New York simply to rob a
skull in order to buy a $7 to get another fix of drugs and all of us here today on a special debt of gratitude to the Honorable Kurt Schmoke mayor of Baltimore. For helping to generate public debate on this issue and it not been for his remarks before the U.S. Conference of Mayors last April. Many of us would not have had this opportunity to review our beliefs and practices whether on the recent Nightline television forum on this solemn occasion. I have nothing. The highest regard for Mayor Kurt Schmoke of Baltimore. A new breed of black elected officials. Yet I cannot agree with him on this issue. We disagree on the issue of legalizing drugs on the basis of my 16 years as a city councilman and two years as mayor of New Jersey's largest city. Plus my many years as a teacher a college professor and coach I must oppose any legalization of addictive drugs. When I took office the Office of the mayor of city of New York I said the number one problem the greatest evil in our community in society
is drugs. Nothing that I've seen or heard has changed that opinion in fact is going to reinforce in my view drugs will always be an evil whether they are legal or not. My police chief has told me that 80 percent of our city robberies purse snatching larcenies drive by shootings and gang warfare is linked to drugs. This year alone there have been 25 shootings and we are a city of one hundred thirty six thousand. So the victims are often innocent bystanders. The turf war with drugs. At its core is maddening. From May 1st to September 8th of this year there have been 700 arrests in Harford that were linked with the drugs. I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that we have lost the so-called War on Drugs that it's a colossal failure and I think that because there has been so much time in doing
what everyone says is the appropriate way to go that we should have equal time in looking at the decriminalization of drugs. So I'm here today to ask that we give serious consideration to the decriminalization of drugs. And I am not proposing a sellout and I am not surrendering but rather this is a pointed suggestion that the much Carol Just Say No campaign and the expenditure of billions by federal state and local law enforcement in there were efforts have not turned the tide now even reached a watershed because the only people who would be hurt by the criminalization are the dealers and then theyd have to go out and get jobs like the rest of us. So I think regulation is the key. We can regulate by outlawing the drugs as we do now or we can regulate by providing a carefully and tightly administered work. It was comments from a couple of big city mayors recorded September 16 before this very same
committee which is about to begin a hearing two days of testimony. While we're waiting for the hearings to begin another 22 minutes or so let's talk a little bit about the politics of this subject coming up in an even number here. In other words an election year when every member of the House of Representatives for instance is up for election that is the body or committee of that body before whom this issue is going to be heard today Fred Graham inside were this not an election year we're not so close to November would there be such such hardline public posturing and public denunciation of the sub proposal of Mayor smokes. Well Dave it's obvious that what's happening here is a pull in two directions. The issue that's being discussed today that is the decriminalization and legalization they're virtually the same thing of drugs is really an idea for the long haul. That's one no one expects to see any action on anytime soon. But in the meantime as you just said this is an election year and we have the anomaly here this meeting being convened today to
consider a quite a different approach to law enforcement than criminal in Foresman. And at the same time the House of Representatives as you just mentioned has just passed a very tough criminal bill involving drugs and which is clearly going the other way. That bill includes the death penalty for pushers who commit murder in the course of dealing drugs that in involves a $10000 possible fine if a person is caught with marijuana and not even convicted. And it would change the rules laid down by the Supreme Court which prevent the use of illegally seized evidence in drug cases illegally seized evidence could be used under this bill if the policeman thought he was acting constitutionally when he got the evidence. As you know some people say that all three of those provision were not that were not the death penalty but at least two of them are unconstitutional and certainly dubious. So I think what we have here
is a short term hard on. Law enforcement approach which is dictated by the political atmosphere and a long term consideration that if extreme measures such as this don't we're going to start thinking about something else. Well you make the point that even the House bill may be some political posturing in itself. What realistically should we expect to be the outcome of this this two days of committee hearings and we're going to hear a lot of opening statements by Congressman Rangle and lots of others and a polite listening to perhaps Kurt Schmoke and others among the proponents and and the issue was dropped. Well as I said earlier I don't think this is going to be a little bit unlike many hearings that we've seen from Washington in that the chairman of the committee and every member of the committee except possibly one are just dead set against this idea of legalizing drugs and they have said in advance or at least Congressman Rangle has that they are going to try to poke holes in this argument that they've I think this is a very good idea that Congressman
Rangle is doing that. I think those of you who in the viewing audience who saw on Nightline about 10 days ago a good part of an evening was devoted to this issue and they simply did not have enough time to really probe the very vexing questions that are raised by this. And we are going to head in the next two days this hearing will last all day today and then two part of Mars there will finally be an adequate opportunity to probe and pick at the weak points perhaps in this argument and I think it's going to serve a very beneficial purpose. I think that we're not going to see any action regardless of how this hearing goes I want to see legislative action now. But the groundwork is being laid starting today for consideration someday 10 years perhaps you know let's idea about I guess it goes without saying we should point out that this this is a hearing on an idea not necessarily a hearing on any bill that is not hearing anything.
Well any concrete proposal when I am told David we're going to see here but I am told that the Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke does have the closest thing I've ever seen to a concrete proposal not written up as a bill with a number on it. Right. I think we're going to see him come up with some specifics. All right in case you're wondering how an urban mayor in this day and age in this country. Arrives at the conclusion that we should move toward decriminalization and at least of some drugs turn the war on drugs over to the surgeon general as opposed to the attorney general. It is not really born of Mayor Kurt Schmoke of Baltimore is hunger for publicising or any wild eyed liberalism on the part of Mayor Schmoke number one those who know Mayor Kurt Schmoke know that he's not really a publisher the hound at least by any measure against any any other group of politicians. Kurt Schmoke is in fact a former state's attorney what translates to a district attorney. He has served for seven years before becoming mayor of Baltimore as the chief prosecutor of Baltimore
Maryland. He spent seven years as a head of the office of prosecuted drug cases day in and day out an office that spent a lot of its time a lot of its man hours prosecuting drug cases. It can be argued that he knows firsthand how drugs and the legal system interact and he is frankly frustrated. As we've seen in previous testimony before this House committee. Decriminalization is not an idea that many other chief prosecutors have wholly embraced. The legalization of drugs in my opinion is a cop out. The advocates of drug legalization may be well-intentioned in their efforts to take the profit out of drug dealing. But the proposal to legalize drugs sends a dangerous message to legalize drugs is to give up the fight. We have not done all we can to combat illegal drug use through education and law enforcement. In the debate concerning whether drugs should be legalized. Proponents of legalization raise more questions than they answer and ignore the real effects of drug abuse. Drugs are illegal because they are harmful and
destructive. The distinction between legal drugs such as alcohol and tobacco and illegal drugs such as cocaine heroin and marijuana is not arbitrary. While both types of drugs have properties in common they also have significant differences. Unlike cigarette smoking drug abuse has been proven to contribute to criminal behavior. Independent studies have found that drug users committed significantly more crimes when addicted and were not using drugs. A recent study funded by the National Institute of Justice found that in nearby New York City. Of those persons arrested in the fall of 1986 for the crimes including burglary robbery assault and theft. Almost 80 percent tested positive for recent cocaine use. When the study was last conducted in 1984 only 42 percent of those arrested tested positive for a recent cocaine use. In other words the prevalence of cocaine use among persons arrested for serious crimes nearly doubled in the span of only two years. The statistics clearly
demonstrate the crimes will continue to occur in all likelihood and will increase particularly if drugs are more accessible through legalization. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse the average age of first time drug users is 13. Based upon the foregoing it is undisputed by both those in favor of legalization and those opposed to it that anti-drug education is vital to reduce the demand for drugs. Such education is imperative if we were to just wait our children from drug abuse removing the criminal stigma from drug use would undermine the straw anti-educational message we all agree is vital to the long range attack on widespread drug use even though the government has instituted educational programs explaining the dangers of drug use. Legalization would convey the message that the government condone such use. Children would be unable to follow a clear message which would be contradicted by the laws which they are taught to obey. If our values of cause drug use
but our laws condone it we are sending a mixed message. Decriminalization would be a surrender to the drug drug abuse. We are just beginning to fight the war. I don't think that this issue is one that really should be frays in in partisan terms because all of us are victims of drug abuse and I think we feel the danger of this quite strongly. But I think we ought to keep in mind and it's clear to me that the criminal laws as they currently are structured are not causing drug abuse. I believe that drug abuse is a challenge to our leadership on both the federal state and local level. And it is a challenge not just to suppress the drug traffic but it is a challenge to strengthen our communities so that they are in a position to take on the challenges of educating our young people so that the churches and civic groups are in
a position to be able to keep our community strong and. Our young people and those living in those communities away from the temptation for dealing in or abusing Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. I think that decriminalization is a retreat from that challenge. We have not seen a panacea in the efforts of Britain or the Netherlands to release skirt this issue of decriminalization. Decriminalization will not reduce crime. It will not reduce drug abuse. And I don't believe it will free the resources that those who advocate decriminalization or legalization feel will be available for treatment programs and for education is short. I don't think there's any shortcut. I don't think there's any magic bullet that
once fired at this problem is going to solve all our ills. Again those comments record of September 16th before this very same House Select Committee on narcotics Let's go back inside now to Fred Graham who is with the chairman of these hearings for the next two days. Thank you Dave and I have discussed previously your statement in which you said you are quite critical of the idea of legalizing drugs. If the proponents of that idea make out a case today that answer your questions could you be persuaded. Yes but they can't do that. It's impossible to say that legalizing drugs because we've legalized cigarettes legalized alcohol would be in the best interests of the people of the United States of America. The world of people is saying that this should be an alternative to our so-called war against drugs. We haven't had a war against drugs. We haven't had a secretary of state dealing with foreign sources. We don't have one federal rehabilitation program. The so-called soldiers in the fight as a heroic drug enforcement agents we only got throughout the world and the United States 2800 we don't have
education we don't have rehabilitation to get frustrated and throw up your hands and say legalize that's before there was one. Sir do you think that perhaps one part of the argument may be valid and that is that if you legalize drugs you really do put the drug lords the pushers out of business both here in the United States and overseas. That's assuming that you don't consider the large pharmaceutical corporation drug pushers. And I do. They are pushing a lot of legal drugs illegally across pharmacists and drug use throughout the country. But why wouldn't it be a better role models in our ghettoes of the local Richman being the drug pushers certainly isn't very beneficial and perhaps at least that would go away. Well I don't know whether I can explain that any mother was kid was addicted to drugs that they were able to get him across the counter from the local hospital or from the clinic from the doctor. And that's the reason why I was given up on the kid. It seems to me that yes you may cut down on a local crime and let's face it. Are you saying that we got to wipe out the illegal
market by legalizing it. If he is saying that then it means that you've got to give that person as much drugs as they want. How much would you give an alcoholic if we just had programs to dispense it. And that's what we're talking about with drug addicts. So if you don't give them enough to border on overdoses they got to go to the illicit market. You know you mentioned a moment ago about spending more money for rehabilitation and for treatment. And I know you mentioned before that a lot of people who want to be rehabilitated can't get into a program. Now we're told that eight billion dollars a year is spent in a rather fruitless effort to stop drugs from getting into this country and if they were legalized then that money could be spent for treatment could it not. Well I mean that was that would have to have customs was the would have to patrol the border as they make certain that contraband wasn't coming in. But I haven't seen if you talk what commission of on Rob he would indicate to you
that he hasn't had tremendous support in protecting our borders. And then of course if you go to the source countries because I soon what you're talking about is present protecting our borders against the opium and the coca leaves that's grown overseas right. Well I am I am told that this country spends about eight billion dollars first in trying to interdict the flow of drugs into the country and then simply and busting people on the street who are pushing it. Now if you legalized it. You don't have to spend all that money. It would be available would it not be treated that's not the federal government busting these people so that if local and state governments believe they have a better why they don't have to come to the United States Congress they ought to see what they can do in their own locale. But I like to emphasize that we have a military that hasn't participated in protecting our borders and we have a secretary of state who has spoken out against the illegal growing of these crops in violation of international treaties. So you're really arguing that although many people would say that the
law enforcement approach has failed up to now that if we did it better it might work. I asked them what law enforcement approach this administration has resisted federal monies going to local law enforcement. The federal law enforcement if you will is less than 3000 federal agents dealing with drugs law enforcement. We haven't had a war and people are giving up already. One other questions are Is it possible that perhaps we can split this issue and perhaps take a different approach to marijuana which many people feel is not near the problem as hard drugs are and continue the current approach toward hard drugs. Well I don't know what the witnesses are going to testify that some people have the lave of someone wants to commit suicide that's illegal and their constitutional right as others that believe that there should be some restrictions and regulations as a govern the
dispensing of these dangerous drugs. And I guess that might be a witness to that would be talking about just legalizing marijuana. But I have no idea where the testimony is going or what restrictions they would want to place on it. We haven't done a job. The federal government hasn't begun to fight. We've just been dealing with slogans for the last eight years. Zero tolerance just say no abuse of accountability and it's clear for anyone who wants to say that that hasn't worked out have to agree with them. But to say legalize it before we really use our energies and our resources to fight against this problem means that every time you have a difficult problem in society you just said let the people decide what they want to do I think it's morally wrong and it's not going to happen here. Thank you very much Congressman Charles Rangle and as you might have suspected a Democrat from New York thank you very much is going to be interesting. We'll be looking forward to your hearings. Thank you. And back to you Dave durian.
Thank you Fred. To continue wrapping up. So I should say setting the stage for this hearing. We've we've gone over the political the legal limits for a moment look at the medical angle this up. Also addressing this House committee September 16 before these two days of hearings some representatives of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and here are some of what they have already put into the record before this committee. Now as a parent who has a son whose life has been badly scarred by drug abuse and as a researcher who has spent 25 years working in clinical settings as well as in research labs I understand the frustration of the problem of drug abuse that it led to the proposals for legalization but legalization of drug abuse is not the answer. Let me briefly review some of the reasons why we had the National Institute on Drug Abuse. And I'm here also today representing the Department of Health and Human Services oppose the legalization illicit drugs.
I would also like to say that because I'm going to try to be brief that I would like my written testimony introduced into the record now my remarks this morning is going to be based mainly upon our research which I hope will provide a sound basis for our being able to make policy in this area. First of all as Mr. wrangle has very clearly and eloquently stated legalization are not really proposals at all for they really haven't addressed yet the practical questions of what drugs should be legalized for whom should they be legalized and what quantities and potency. And I would simply like to point out how some of my recent research has demonstrated these complexities are far greater than many of the proponents of legalization realize. I think it is absolutely impossible for us to consider the legalization of cocaine basically because of its pharmacology. We know that those who are addicted to heroin need to take heroin three to four times a day after they take an injection of heroin.
They're craving their drug hunger decreases. Recent studies that we've conducted both in the natural settings on the street and in the laboratory indicate that situation with cocaine is very different. An individual crazed go take cocaine takes a snort or injects it smokes it and instead of the Jeep creasing his craving it's just like the familiar experience we've all had with salt peanuts. It increases his craving for cocaine. He craves cocaine more after he takes it than he did before he initiated that particular bout of cocaine years. That's how could we practically legalize this drug what would we have nurses and physicians sitting there willing to inject or give the drug every 20 to 30 minutes around the clock. Well if they did that. Then obviously we would get into the second part of the pharmacology of cocaine and that is that high enough says it directly produces a paranoid toxic psychosis leading to violence and if high enough doses of taken of course it leads to
convulsions and death. Well I don't know how we would limit cocaine that was dispensed legally if we gave the individual one hit of cocaine and they walked out from my dispensary. He would be craving more cocaine than he would have before. We gave him that one hit of cocaine. Our research has clearly shown that. So these are just part of the complexities that I think absolutely preclude the consideration of the legalization of cocaine. A society that is high on drugs is an unhealthy and unproductive society with their brains clouded in the senses don't buy truck you black Americans would be unable to cull for instance and then on the job. Obviously there would be negative consequences from lost productivity and absenteeism both in school and at work. We already know that children who use alcohol or other drugs are not able to function as well as they should and foam by far. Alcohol is the drug of choice among
Americans young people according to the 1987 high school seniors survey 92 percent of high school seniors survey at our home and 40 percent. Report effort so heavy to rank that nearly all high school students have experimented with alcohol. This despite the fact that it is a legal drug. But youth in the age of 21 does that not provide us with ample evidence. That a drop which is legal called adults cannot be kept from youngsters. Therefore I probably in fact of little information on the black community would be devastating. Legalizing illicit drugs but Bertha you broke the already precarious bammy structure that undermines the future of many black youngsters. When one member of the family abuses drugs all family members suffer instances of Faust's abuse and child abuse and neglect often go hand in hand with the list. Families are the backbone of America. Nothing will tear our family apart faster than a
parent who is unable to make a living or care for chow or even function as a responsible adult. Therefore as I pointed out earlier the office with substance abuse prevention then it's very much unquestionably opposed to legalization of illicit drugs in America. There you have it the stage is set for these hearings by the House Select Committee on narcotics to say the least a formidable uphill battle facing Baltimore Maryland Mayor Kurt Schmoke and others who have proposed as you have no doubt seen in the media and heard by now the legalization or decriminalization of drugs. It is 9:30 1:00 in the morning and we expect that Congressman Rangle will not want too much of a delay before gaveling these two days of hearings toward it while we're waiting for that to happen we do understand the Mayor Kurt Schmoke of Baltimore is by no means ready to back off on his original proposal. We understand that the mayor of Baltimore is in fact going he's going to be the first witness to appear
he is the lead off witness here. He was offered that during a national television appearance by Congressman Charles Rangle on ABC News Nightline Mayor Schmoke is taking the congressman up on that. We're expecting to hear comments from quite a few members of the committee including some opening comments by Congressman Charles Wang. All right I believe we're about ready to begin our gavel to gavel coverage of these hearings by the House Select Committee on narcotics Let's go back inside and see what's happening there right now at nine thirty two in the morning Eastern Time. We have a gun here just a moment ago Congressman Rangle gavel this meeting to its commencement. He has now started and I am going to ask the camera man to swing around and now pick up the hearing with the opening statement of Congressman Charles Rangel. Say that we are focused on a law enforcement policy. Two things should be made abundantly clear that they has been
resistance for eight years. Opposition to congressional attempts to fund local and state law enforcement. Any mayor any governor any police chief will tell you. That it has not been the policy of this administration to fund local and state law enforcement. One might as well we weren't talking about local and state. We're talking about federal. How could we possibly say that we have a federal policy of strict strict law enforcement when the truth of the matter is that we have less than 3000 drug enforcement agents in the United States and throughout the world. We may only have two thousand eight hundred men and women who are dedicated to fight drugs. I would think that they have people who say that we should
expand an education expand and rehabilitation. And that's the reason why they would want to consider legalization. Well I would say that before they start talking about decriminalization and legalization should they not say that we have failed to have one federal rehabilitation program. These are the things that some of us are fighting for to get out of government and our states and our cities involved and sound rehabilitation programs. Some would say we have to do more in education while they have allowed this administration and this Congress to get away with zero tolerance slogans just say no slogans OK come out of school slogans. And finally I think if we're giving up on the war I think we have to admit. That we don't grow opium in this country. We don't grow coca leaves in this country and we have yet to hear
publicly the secretary of state expresses utter contempt for countries and allies and friends that do grow these drugs and poison and come into the United States war against drugs. When last we heard from any secretary of state indicating that they were prepared to put the military resources to protect our borders against the intrusion of drugs I submit that this is not the time to be given up on a war that has just been declared but has not been effectively waged. And I'm suggesting that those people. Who would come before this body and want to discuss debate. Open up dialogue as to why we should legalize. Should be a little more clear in what they're asking us to consider. It is not enough to just say that something should be done
if we're going to legislate what you're asking us to do is to reopen every international treaty that we've had. With countries that have agreed not to grow drugs or to declare it illegal. What we're doing is that we're asking every state that change its laws that we asking us to take another look at our import and export balance of trade as we now look to the cocaine producing countries in Central and South America. Or do we look at our American farmer and give them a tree and says we buy American. We have to be able to discuss this morning and tomorrow what drugs we're talking about. Whether they're going to be regulated because there is an assumption that we're not talking about doing the same that we have for liquor and cigarettes even though some people say that's an example we should follow. But I don't believe that people are
talking about buying a costa Callen or vending machines. There has to be regulation we need guidance as to what they're talking about. We have to make certain that they're not talking about dispensing drugs to kids we know they don't mean that. We have to find out what medical research has been done to determine whether or not an addict knows when he had enough and that the doctors and the hospitals and I assume the professors will determine what enough is. We have to find out what the alcoholics know when they have enough whether addicts know whether they have enough or whether they will be going back to the legal markets. We have to know what testimony they have from doctors and research organizations as to whether or not there will be an increase the number of addicts and the children born as Addicks. We have to know whether or not this is a program just for the wealthy that can afford doctors or whether we should insist that it be included in health insurance plans as we're trying to expand coverage. Are we talking about including this with Medicare.
Are we really talking about expanding Medicaid. Are we talking about drug stamps I don't know. But one thing I do know is that we are not talking about let's discuss this and I assume there's going to be some restrictions as to what they're asking this Congress to consider. And I would say for those that are involved in public service it would help the chair and members of this committee that instead of just telling us what has been debated if you might share with us some of the experiences that you've had and leadership that you have taken in order to see this. This type of subject matter get a broader audience and tell us whether or not it's work. At this time I would like to yield to my distinguished minority senior member of the Republican who serves on this committee and I just would like to say that we have never had a issue in Ally's the eight years that has
divided along party lines and this certainly isn't one of them that we have dedicated to see what we can do to make our country and our society drug free. And I yield to the Honorable Benjamin Gilman from the state of New York. Thank you Mr. Chairman and I want to commend you and our staff for arranging an extensive number of panels today to begin to a very critical issue very important issue one that is receiving a great deal of attention and debate throughout our nation today. We've been describing our struggle against illegal illegal drugs is a war against the narcotics people drug kingpins are continuing cashing in on our nation's seemingly insatiable appetite for deadly drugs. These multinational criminal syndicates have used their ill gotten wealth and unrestrained violence to build an evil empire and empire of breathtaking global magnitude because we all recognize the
narcotics problem isn't just a problem confronting our nation but today virtually every nation throughout the world the drug traffickers power is so great that they threaten the authority you have of governments throughout the world in Latin America we see the situation to be a grave one. Colombia for example the home of the Mady and Cali drug syndicates is virtually under siege by the drug traffickers. The drug cartels area been responsible for assassinating the Colombian minister of justice and attorney general. More than 50 judges have the highest courts in that land virtually placing the whole court in a state of being not able to act in any manner. At least a dozen journalists have been killed in several publishers and more than 400 police killed in the last few years in attempting to bring law and order to that country.
Thousands of courageous Colombians continue to work under President Marcos leadership to combat narcotics in spite of death threats to themselves and to their families. And when the narco traffickers offered to negotiate with the Colombian government promising to help pay off the national debt if they were to be granted amnesty. The Colombian people didn't sink to the moral low ground occupied by the drug traffickers and they resisted the financial temptation of easing their own burdens and they rejected these kind of offers and didn't surrender to the drug kingpins. And now here in our own nation some are calling for that kind of a surrender to wave the right white flag to the drug traffickers they argue it's time that we compromise some of these morals in our values and the lives of thousands of citizens by legalisation. They advise our policy makers to give up the moral high ground and they say
C'mon it's time to make a deal with these people. They contend that legalizing drugs will end the drug crisis. I think that's virtually a can to ending violent crime by league legalizing those very crimes. Drug legalization is not going to put the international cartels out of business. Prohibition didn't end to organized crime. The cartels will adapt. They will find new ways to penetrate the United States market to continue their business operations in both the European continent and in Asia and perhaps more extensively into gun running and terrorism. Drug trafficking and drug abuse is not a problem that's going to be able to be solved with the stroke of a pen or by a statutory legalisation and neither will drug legalization end drug related street crime. And NBC News poll this
month some 76 percent of Americans said legalization would not decrease crime. The reason they say this is that they have seen the attics on a streets and they understand that drug users don't steal rape and murder only because they need money to pay for their habit. And you also break the law because of their judgment stability and state of mind are roaded by their drug use. I'm wondering if anyone really thinks that under legalization at the drug addict is going to be able to go into a 24 hour a day drug supermarket pick up a legal dosage and then stay out of trouble. I would hope that our panelists can answer some of those problems. However despite my feelings about legalization it doesn't follow that I believe that our drug policy has been truly effective in reducing the supply of demand and nice
and of drugs had many of those who advocate legalization credibly criticize our past inadequacies in our war against drugs. So today we do have an opportunity to focus our nation's intention on this deadly problem and to try to find some new solutions. We look forward to the testimony by our panelists our colleagues who have been willing to come forward and some of the specialists who are out there on a battlefield daily confronting this problem and we hope out of these hearings will come some fresh new ideas that our nation can adopt so that we will be more effective in what we're seeking to do. Thank you Mr. Chairman. Mr. Starr you're going to meet you for holding these hearings. Your leadership in fighting drugs makes you a hero in the overall war on drugs. Mr. Chairman our cities New York and
Oakland have been heavily affected by the drug plague our district's neighborhoods are the DMZ of our war on drugs. New York and Oakland share common drug related characteristics. Both cities are able to treat only 10 percent of the heroin and cocaine addict seeking treatment. Most cities require addicts to wait at least six months for treatment. Both cities have seen drug related crime rates skyrocket as a result of the lack of available treatment. Both cities spend many times more funds and resources arresting users than concentrating on treating the addicted. Legalization of illegal narcotics is not the answer. We must treat the abuser so the residents of New York and Oakland will be safer in the future. Every time we turn away an addict we are unwitting and unwilling accomplices to crimes committed in order to maintain an expensive habit. Mr. Chairman is one approach I'm introducing a bill to provide treatment for all addicts seeking help
treatment on request I think is a good answer to lowering our city's drug related crime rate. It will be financed through the Social Security program's disability insurance provisions and using a Medicare type payment principle to provide a full range of cost control inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation services. Simply put treatment on request ought to be part of our crime reduction program. I welcome the opportunity to hear today's witnesses. It's important that we begin to add emphasis to the health oriented solutions and other humane approaches. Thank you. Thank you Mr. Thank you Mr. Chairman. First I'd like to commend you for your countless writings interviews and statements opposing the concept of his before this committee today. I'll be brief in my opening statement but I feel very strongly that several points need to be made about this hearing. I want to say
that is my. Studied opinion that we shouldn't even dignify the idea of legalizing drugs with a two day hearing. Seems to me that this is entirely contrary to the jurisdiction and of the mission of this committee. I find it difficult to believe and even harder to accept that we are spending congressional time on this notion of legalizing drugs. Congressional time is precious. It's expensive to the taxpayers and particularly so as we reach the end of the historic 100 Congress. In addition we have assembled a long list of witnesses with extensive backgrounds and distinguished educations. And it seems to me that we could channel their talents and their time more constructively to try to do something positive about the problem rather than having the focus of this day and tomorrow on the legalization of drugs. Why are we even considering this dangerous and disastrous idea. Is this the message we want to send to the nation and to the world from the U.S. Congress. Is this what we want to say to the family of
Kiki Camarena. Is this what we have to say to the Colombian drug cartels the narco terrorists and organized crime mobs the traffic drugs. Just as importantly is this what we say about innocent citizens who have been murdered and maimed by violence caused by PC P.. What about the thousands upon thousands of Americans who have been robbed by drug addicts supporting their habits. Is this what we say to America's teenagers who are trying to decide whether or not to experiment with dangerous drugs that we are contemplating after all of this public effort and money already invested in the war. After all the personal grief and failure caused by drugs. Well we changed our minds. Drugs Are Really OK after all. I don't want to be any part of that message. This is no solution. This would be chaos. That to me is completely unacceptable for this civilized country to take the logic to its extreme. Crime could be completely
eliminated from our society by deciding if the government no longer opposes murder assault and all other behavior now deemed criminal. Mr. Chairman we know the effects of the underground black market drug economy. We know that it saps more than one hundred and forty billion dollars each year from our national wealth. We know that it saps excuse me we know the direct relationship of individuals to organized crime to problems in schools and truancy and youth suicides shootings robberies murders traffic fatalities. Addicted babies the spread of AIDS and countless other public policy difficulties and personal tragedies. One of the unique qualities about this country is that we're fighters. Whether you want to call it the pioneer spirit the can do spirit or the work ethic we have always tried to take decisive actions about things that are wrong in this country and throughout the world. I certainly hope this hearing is not an indication that we're just going to roll over and play dead on the drug issue. This is far worse than no response at all.
My best hope for an outcome of today's committee session is that we close this totally unproductive chapter on the debate once and for all and I thank the chair for his indulgence. Thank you Mr. Oxley Mr. Greer Raney a member of the Ways and Means Committee has worked very hard on this issue domestically as well as in foreign affairs. Thanks very much Mr. Chairman. I'm very pleased that outstanding thing which panelist are here today to discuss the issue of legalization of drugs. Mr. Chairman I want to thank you for your deep sensitivity to this problem and to the national direction that you have given Congress and our nation. It's an important issue and a thoughtful discussion deserves a national interest. I do not support legalization as a cure to our nation's drug problem. I believe it's the wrong policy and sends a wrong signal it sends a wrong signal to the drug lords that we have lost and they have won. It sends a wrong signal to our kids that the United States government is saying yes to drugs. Mr.
Chairman during the presidential campaign Jesse Jackson said up with hope down with dope. I think he made a very important point. Instead of making drugs legal we should motivate people so they they don't need drugs so that the young people don't use drugs. I think that's where the issue lies. We need to do more for the people and children of America to give them something to believe and something to work for something to fight for. We need to renew that sense of purpose that spirit of idealism that American notion of decency and compassion that every child grow up with hope not hunger. Every child should live by dreams and not despair. We need to heal wounds and unite families. We need to renew respect for law and define law as promoting justice. We had books in learning the power of knowledge. Neither were oh where every child can wake up in the morning and say I can use my talents. I'm going to come push
great things. I can really be somebody. And nothing nothing in the world can stop me. No I don't think we don't need to make drugs available to all the young people of America. We need to give people an alternative drugs. We need hope and opportunity. We need inspirational leadership. I look forward to the hearing today because I do think that there should be a national dialogue on this issue. And I think that it will make a very important contribution to the drug issue and perhaps in the long run to erasing the scores that we have facing our nation. Thank you Mr. Chairman. Thank you Mr. Lewis of Florida. Thank you. Unless you frankly it seems contradictory to me. It does of us who have committed ourselves to the fight against drugs have agreed to hold a hearing on giving in to drugs legalization is a surrender and we must not and cannot surrender when future generations are at stake.
That's in essence what we are doing when we talk of legalizing drugs. We cannot ask our children to say no to the ravages of drugs. Warning them of the physical and emotional trauma involved and then give up on our part of the fight. There is no way to justify the untold destruction of minds and bodies that would result from the legalization of drugs making drugs more affordable and more readily available cannot be anything but detrimental to our society. I particularly object to those who advocate legalization on the grounds that the government can ultimately make a profit on the drug trade for itself legitimatizing drug profits and turning the government and private citizens into drug traffic goes is an appalling notion that should be rejected by this committee without hesitation. Legalizing drugs will not rid us of this problem. It will only exacerbate it. We cannot make that very grave mistake.
And I look forward to hearing the testimony of some of the leaders of our society and communities who want to come before this committee to make statements on legalizing drugs. And I would like to hear what they have to say to many of the questions that will be asked by this committee. Thank you Mr. Chairman. Could Mr. Lewis and I be hurried in the back. But is that someone from the house explain what's going on with the mikes system. Is there any anybody at working the mikes system and less than five of them. Thank you. You know.
I might take this opportunity and I'm confident that you can hear me in the back to share with you that because of the overwhelming number of people that have asked to testify and to be present we are going to have to rotate the spectators here after the panels because we have a large number of people waiting in the hallways. Also I will be reminding the press and spectators that we will break from 12:30 to 1:30 and resume the hearings at 1:30. We also as most of you know because of the large number of people that wanted to testify have extended a hearing into tomorrow. Could you hear that in the back. Now could we get some degree of accountability here as to
how long it's going to take. What additional help. While I know that we have a distinguished panel of members of Congress which includes the chairman of Foreign Affairs and and we have any number of members here is that one working one. Then I will ask the members of the committee that they would speak loudly and hope that we can plug into into this mess as taxes. Just the time I will be as brief as possible but let me take this opportunity to welcome the outstanding member of Congress and other members who will be witnesses this morning. Before becoming a congressman I served as a law enforcement official as a sheriff in
South Texas. As such I saw many brave and dedicated men and women sacrifice their time their afeard and often their lives in fighting what we call the war on drugs. Why would someone lay down their life for this purpose. Certainly a sense of duty to enforce the law of the land. It's a primary motivation but there's more to it than that. Those who so bravely waged this were also know what illegal drugs are doing to our children to our communities and our nation as a whole. This trucks take away the God given gift of human potential. They poison and destroy the body the mind and the soul. When even one more citizen falls pray to the addiction of these substances we all suffer as a society. Legalization will not change this. The
war on drugs is not just about money or the economics of a black market. It's also about human potential and our potential as a people. I recognize the position of those who feel that we must openly debate this topic. That is why we are so engaged in this hearing today. But it is a tragic comment on the fact that illegal drugs have had on this country when reasonable persons are driven to seriously consider unreasonable proposals. And I remain convinced that can we all and all is said and done we will realize the tragically misguided nature off admitting defeat in a war we have barely begun to wage. Thank you Mr. Chairman. Mr. Coons of New Jersey and the chairman of the crime Committee of the judiciary committee that's made a substantial contribution to a bill in this
committee. Well thank you Mr. Chairman I. I want to congratulate you on convening this hearing. Unlike some of our colleagues this is a democracy and we should never fear the debate and discussion of ideas although they might be held by a very small portion of our population. So I want to welcome our distinguished panel of colleagues from the Congress and the distinguished panel to follow. Let me just say at the outset that I am very much opposed to a legal it looked at legalization of drugs. I haven't come by that without a lot of reflection over the years. I'm in my 24th year in law enforcement in one way or another 10 years as a prosecutor 14 years in Congress working in the criminal justice system. And I respect those that believe that legalization perhaps is something we should consider. They're just dead wrong. First I'd like to hear from the witnesses that followed just where in anywhere in the world they can point to where legalization has ever worked.
Show us where it's work. Secondly those that suggest that we take the profits out of drugs by legalization I would like to suggest like them to suggest how that's going to occur. We're not going to meet the black market and those that believe that we're not going to exacerbate the problems that we already have in our health care area. I should point to how in fact we're going to solve our problems by legalizing drugs. We're up there eyeballs and contraband of all kinds. The policies that we've developed over the years can work if we in fact make the commitments that are needed to make them work. We haven't done that yet. We have not committed the resources and we haven't made the commitments as a society that we need. We'll have as much substance abuse in America as we'll tolerate.
- Drug Legalization Hearing 1
- Producing Organization
- Maryland Public Television
- Contributing Organization
- Maryland Public Television (Owings Mills, Maryland)
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- Program Description
- Drug Legalization Hearing House Select Committee on Narcotics Abuse and Control
- Broadcast Date
- Asset type
- Social Issues
- Public Affairs
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- Moving Image
Copyright Holder: MPT
Host: Graham, Fred P.
Host: Durian, Dave
Producing Organization: Maryland Public Television
Speaker: Rangel, Charles B.
Speaker: Lewis, Tom
Speaker: Gilman, Benjamin A.
Speaker: Stark, Fortney H.
Speaker: Oxley, Michael G.
Speaker: Guarini, Frank J.
Speaker: Ortiz, Solomon P.
Speaker: Hughes, William J.
Speaker: James, Sharpe
Speaker: Perry, Carrie Saxon
Speaker: Tate Jr., Herbert H.
Speaker: Dennis Jr., Edward S.G.
Speaker: Schuster, Charles R.
Speaker: Johnson, Elaine M.
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Maryland Public Television
Identifier: 27665.0 (MPT)
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- Chicago: “Drug Legalization Hearing 1,” 1988-09-29, Maryland Public Television, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 10, 2023, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-394-203xspsc.
- MLA: “Drug Legalization Hearing 1.” 1988-09-29. Maryland Public Television, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 10, 2023. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-394-203xspsc>.
- APA: Drug Legalization Hearing 1. Boston, MA: Maryland Public Television, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-394-203xspsc