Bush announces $19B anti-drug initiative

Posted 6:15 p.m. Feb. 13 p.m.

By Patrick W. Higgins

(U-WIRE) WASHINGTON – President George W. Bush announced this week that Americans who purchase illegal drugs are contributing to terrorist organizations and governments.

The announcement came as part of his new $19 billion anti-drug initiative.

“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 cited that the ousted Taliban regime controlled 70 percent of the global opium trade.

At a recent press conference, Bush called for a 10 percent decrease in drug use over the next two years, a figure he wants to more than double to 25 percent over the next five years.

“I know they’re ambitious goals,” Bush claimed, “but when we meet them, our nation is going to be safer and more hopeful.”

The new plan is divided into three parts, which include limiting the drug supply, reducing the demand for illegal drugs, and providing health care to addicts on a priority basis with pregnant women and homeless people first.

“We must aggressively promote drug treatment,” Bush said in press conference on Tuesday. “Because a nation that is tough on drugs must also be compassionate to those addicted to drugs.”

The federal funding, proposed in the 2003 fiscal year budget sent to Congress last week, allocates $2.3 billon to increased border patrols. The escalation marks a 10 percent increase from 2002.

Bush also appealed to Central and South American governments in his speech by offering $731 million to the efforts of the Andean counter-drug strategy, which includes Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Peru and Venezuela.

“I look forward to making sure the program is effective, that crop substitution works and crop destruction goes forward,” Bush said.

The second dimension of the new policy is reducing demand through programs such as Parents Drug Corps, a federally funded organization which is designed to promote awareness in American adults.

“It is essential that our parents understand that they’re the child’s most important teacher,” Bush said, “and that the message of our parents must be unequivocable: don’t use drugs.”

The Safe Schools and Communities Program, a community-based drug opponent that strives to keep drugs out of school zones will receive $644 million under Bush’s new plan.

“As demand goes down, so will supply,” Bush stated. “As we reduce demand in America, it will take the pressure off of our friends in the south.”

A 6 percent hike in federal funds will be devoted to the “compassionate” treatment of addicts. The additional $3.8 billion will provide for increased government-state relations to aid the 3.9 million drug addicts currently in America.

“I think one of the major problems in drug treatment is the lack of funding,” said Robert Holden, Director of Partners in Drug Abuse and Rehabilitation Counseling. “I certainly feel that this new plan will be effective, will it be all encompassing, that I don’t know.”

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