« AnteriorContinuar »
It is also interesting to note that, while most all of the advocates believe that the so-called law enforcement part of this program has been ineffective, the truth of the matter, as testified to by the Drug Enforcement Administrator, Jack Lawn, is that on the Federal level we have only 2,800 agents. According to his testimony, some of them are involved in going to schools to try to educate the kids against the dangers of drugs. So there has not really been that Federal effort in law enforcement.
It would seem to me that perhaps mayors who believe there should be changes in the direction in which we are fighting this problem might attempt to introduce those ideas to their city councils or, as Senator Joseph Galiber has done, to introduce legislation in the state legislature to attempt to change some of the things they are doing there.
This discussion, if you will, needs a lot more research before witnesses can suggest to the U.S. Congress that we enter into a debate. It seems like those that come from our colleges, who are teaching our youngsters, do have resources that they can research and give more than just an item that we can discuss.
We have gone through a lot of time and effort to reach treaties and agreements with the drug-producing countries. I think that some thought has to be given to how we would break those treaties and how we would go to the United Nations and say we have changed our mind, that as a consumer nation we think now that we should expand the market of importing cocaine and heroin and marijuana as a part of our national policy.
Of course, if we don't want to do that, then we have to explore the potential of having our farmers go into the market of cocoa leaves and opium. I don't think there would be much opposition from them, knowing the problems they are facing.
But, still, what we are saying is that the processing, the laborato ries, the conversions, the diversion, is something we have to consider, since people are concerned about the illegal market. That would be a part of the problem we would have.
For those who say take the profit out of it, we are talking about taking the profit from the street bums and transferring it to the multinational pharmaceuticals, and then we are talking about how these drugs would be regulated.
So there are basic questions. Whose community are we going to put these licenses in? Who is going to dispense the drugs? Is it going to be a public service program, as Mayor Schmoke suggested? Is it going to be local or State level? Is it going to be the Federal Government who has the obligation to make certain we pay for them? Will there be drug stamps? Will we expand Medicaid, have it included in private insurance policies? Are we really transferring the expense of criminal activity to an expense of health activity, as more and more children are born addicted to drugs?
I don't think there is any dispute that as alcohol became legal, more people drank it and more kids became teenage alcoholics. But we don't treat alcoholics by giving them alcohol.
These are serious questions that I think we have to bring to the table when you ask your Congress to say, “Let's talk.” There is nothing to debate. You have to bring something to the table and show that this makes sense. Then comes the debate.
That is why, when I found so many people who wanted to testify, Ben Gilman and I directed staff to expand the hearings into the next day. That is why we had no problem in meeting just as long as we could, as long as the witnesses could, last night.
If there is anybody who believes they have something to say and we take a look and find out they have had the background and experience, that they could make a contribution to this discussion, I assure you that we will continue to look into this matter until at least people have agreed that there is a lot of work they have to do before they bring this issue up again.
Let me take this time to yield to the Republican Ranking Member of this committee who, along with me, has been very successful in keeping politics out of our deliberations. It is very unusual and I must admit that as the time gets closer to the election and the buttons for our Presidential choices get bigger and bigger, it certainly has not interfered with the work
committee. There is a great deal of pride that I have in being able to work with Ben Gilman.
Mr. GILMAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
We welcome having the additional catalyst here today. We regret, in trying to get the best of thinking around the nation, we had to cram a lot of material and issues into a very short period of time.
We welcome the panelists to today's hearing, I particularly welcome Dr. Musto before us. He has done a good job in the past of trying to advise this committee of some of the strategy and some of the goals that we should be seeking. I know that Dr. Musto has given himself to other panels and other groups in Washington who have been giving attention to this issue.
Yesterday we certainly had a good cross-section of testimony. I am still unconvinced that we should be moving in the direction of legalization, but we certainly heard a number of thought-provoking ideas that should be addressed.
Of course, what we are all seeking is a better strategy, a more effective way of combating this problem that has been ruining our institutions, affecting the minds of our young people, not only in this nation but in other nations.
we can evolve, as a result of these hearings, a better approach, then we will have accomplished a great deal.
I will not take any further time from our panelists. We look forward to hearing from them, particularly Dr. Musto.
Mr. RANGEL. We have been joined by Congressman Larry Smith. We still try to say he is an original New Yorker. He is the chairman of the Subcommittee on Foreign Affairs that deals with the problems we have in international drug trafficking.
Larry was explaining to the advocates that we would have some problems in undoing those treaties we tried so hard to get. Also I mentioned the problem we would have with the farmers who would want consumers to buy American.
Mr. SMITH. Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this series of hearings.
I am rather dismayed that this kind of subject still has the support it seems to have, although I think most Americans are strongly opposed to legalization or decriminalization. I think these hearings will dispel the myth that seems to still exist that a strong push against drugs, which everyone who comes before this committee seems to advocate, includes, however, some form of legalization of that very same drug group.
It seems to me the hearings will have a very positive effect in laying this unfortunate and recurring mistaken impression to rest.
The chairman is certainly correct: we have a significant problem overseas. We have significant domestic forces in this country which still are in a position where they cannot give us the full cooperation that we need. Outside the country we have the same kind of problem, which is exacerbated by the economic conditions, which is made worse by militaristic governments, rebel groups and the like.
However, this country has never relied on anyone else for its own domestic law enforcement. We have never been in a position where we could not enforce our own laws because other people were involved. We have the capability, and we have the obligation to do that.
I have seen first-hand over the years, and so have the chairman and Mr. Gilman for many years in working on this problem as well, the ravages of drugs. You name it, I can tell you about it. Frankly, I am not under any circumstances going to be the one who has to cast the vote to decriminalize or normalize the use of what I consider to be very, very significantly dangerous, debilitating, toxic substances.
This Government, the people of this country, do not expect us to abandon our capability to keep people safe and protected from this because it is difficult. They expect us to find the the right answers. I am sure this series of hearings will assist us in trying to find these answers.
I think we can come to some realities about how we can best solve the problem of drugs. We keep making a chip-away at it, but not every part of the Government wants to cooperate all the time. I think the hearings are going to be another in a series of things that are going to be important, that people can see and hear and read about, and hopefully we can come to a better understanding of what we have to do in the future in order to rid ourselves as much as we can of the problem of drugs in our society.
Mr. RANGEL. Our first witness is Dr. David Musto of Yale University, a historian who can give an overview of the problems of drugs in our country.
I want to thank you, Dr. Musto, for the patience you have had with me and my staff in arranging your time to be wtih us. We had hoped that we could have you kick off the whole hearing, but political and time considerations made that difficult. It was very kind of you to consider being our lead witness today.
As we pointed out to you, we have the 5-minute restriction in terms of time, but if you were able to follow us yesterday you could see the Members have a very deep interest in this subject. I had the privilege to read your entire statement, and it is so well done. We will distribute that to the Members and it will serve as a pertinent part of the record.
Dr. Musto. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
UNIVERSITY Dr. Musto. Making a very brief overview of the drug history in America, I would say in the 19th Century many drugs-cocaine, heroin and morphine-were legal and the consumption of these drugs reached a peak about the 1890's and 1900. I think the point to make is that we had legal drugs in the 19th century. Cocaine was legal, heroin and morphine were legal.
It was the result of the rising consumption of these drugs and the effects of these drugs on individuals, communities and families that led us to enact drug laws in this country. They did not come about from nowhere; they came about as a response to legalized and widespread drug use.
The first cocaine epidemic—we are in the second one nowbegan in the mid-1880s when purified cocaine became available. A year after the processes to allow purified cocaine to be available, about 1885, the Park David Company of Detroit provided cocaine in 14 different forms, completely legal. You could have coca cigarettes, cocaine for sniffing, injecting, rubbing on as a salve. Any way you wanted cocaine, you could get it.
The pharmaceutical companies said this was so popular the factories had to work overtime and it spread throughout the United States.
Cocaine was an original ingredient of Coca Cola and it was not taken out of Coca Cola until 1900, when the image of cocaine had plummeted. During the first 10 or 15 years cocaine was considered the ideal American tonic. It was recommended for baseball players. I understand some still take it.
I think the use of cocaine in the first 10 or 15 years illustrates that a new drug which seems to have remarkable advantages can spread throughout society. It may take 15 years or so for people to realize that the effects of cocaine make it a very dangerous drug. By 1900 or 1905 cocaine was considered the most dangerous drug in the United States, from having been considered practically the allAmerican tonic 15 years before.
We passed laws against it. In New York State there was the Al Smith Cocaine Law in 1913. Congress passed legislation in 1914. The United States started the World Anti-Narcotic Movement and presided over the international convention of 1912 which sought to control the use of cocaine worldwide, as well as opium and opiates.
One important thing to learn from the cocaine epidemic around the turn of the century is how a drugs' image can evolve among the public. A drug comes in and it is seen as okay: in moderation the drug is safe. This greatly changes for some drugs, such as cocaine, to where it doesn't pay to take it once. This transition in image from being something like a beverage to a poison takes many years. That happened with cocaine. It is happening with cocaine again.
From my study of the problems of heroin and cocaine in this country, it is quite evident that the key element in reducing demand is this change of attitude toward the drugs, which has been going on in the last 15 or 20 years. When you do have this, you have the basis for decline in demand.
Bolivia, Peru and other countries grew coca leaves before the epidemic of the 1880s and they grew it afterwards, and they grew it during that time. The mere growing of the substances in itself is not the determinate factor; it is the attitude the public has toward the substance.
With regard to the argument, “Why don't you let this go on in a gradual process uninhibited or unaffected by the attempts at legal control?'' I would say there are a lot of things in our society, including racial discrimination, which we don't allow to follow a leisurely course. If we see that something is a danger and a bad thing, we ask for laws to help us in restricting it.
I do think laws have a place to play in this decline side of the drug problem. We should be very careful about what happens in the decline phase. When the nation has an almost unanimous consensus against drugs, we are liable to make serious public policy errors in the direction of overkill.
In the decline phase around the turn of the century, racial prejudice and other elements tarnished our fight against drugs.
I see ways now in which we indulge in overkill. We think we can get rid of this problem in 2 or 3 years, but history suggests it is a very gradual process. I think '78 or '79 was the peak of tolerance toward drug use in this country. I am sure you will recall there was a drive for legalization at that time.
It is interesting to look at the arguments for legalization of cocaine in the 1970's and compare it to the 1980s. In the 1970's the argument was this was a relatively harmless drug, it doesn't cause problems if you don't use too much. Now the argument for legalization of cocaine has none of the benign images of cocaine. The arguments are: we will reduce profits, stop crime and turf wars. We have made a very important transition in our public attitude from seeing cocaine as okay unless misused, to seeing it as bad in itself. It is the groundwork for a decline in the amount of cocaine used.
I will be glad to take your questions.
Mr. RANGEL. We have been joined by an outstanding Member of this committee, Jim Scheuer from New York, who is an author as well as a person who has fought against drugs since he came to this Congress and probably before that. He is somebody who does not accept the status quo and he continues to challenge, knowing that this Congress and this nation can do better. I welcome him.
Mr. SCHEUER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I want to say our chairman is a remarkable leader and has done an outstanding job in leading this committee and this Congress, and he is capable of helping us out of the awful situation that surrounds us.
Mr. RANGEL. We have, of course, Robert Garcia, whose district has been hit so badly by the importation of drugs. We thank you for visiting with us.
Doctor, yesterday one of our Princeton assistant professors indicated that the minority community really had no idea how much better off they would be if drugs were legalized.