Key Points Of the Policy
1. PUBLIC SAFETY: The plan seeks to send a clear message to all federal employees and contractors, organizations receiving federal funds and employees who work with the safety of the American public that Schedule I drugs are against the law and won't be tolerated. (256K AIFF or WAV sound)
2. EDUCATION: The administration will attempt to impress upon America's youth and their parents the dangers of drugs, and to motivate young people to reject illegal drugs and substance abuse. (192K AIFF or WAV sound)
Gen. Barry McCaffrey's announcement -- 8:30 streaming video
HHS Secretary Shalala's statement -- 4:30 streaming video
Attorney General Reno's statement -- 2:16 streaming video
Feds Could Punish Doctors Who Prescribe Medicinal Pot - Dec. 24, 1996
Senate Holds Hearings On Medicinal Marijuana - Dec. 2, 1996
California OKs Marijuana For Medicinal Use - Nov. 5, 1996
Administration To Oppose Medicinal Drug Use
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Dec. 30) -- Calling state initiatives that allow medicinal use of marijuana a "quasi-legalization of drugs," federal officials today announced a new policy, approved by President Bill Clinton, to enforce the existing federal ban on narcotics.
Appearing with Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala and Attorney General Janet Reno, retired Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey, the nation's drug czar, presented reporters with a multi-agency response to California's and Arizona's innitiatives that relax restrictions on the use of some illegal drugs for medical purposes, including marijuana. (128K AIFF or WAV sound)
Describing a four-part strategy [see chart], McCaffrey told reporters that the administration's strategy was founded on the belief that "drug abuse in America, particularly among adolescents and children, imperils our future."
He said the government must reaffirm its position of zero-tolerance for drug use by federal employees or people who work in jobs effecting the public safety, like school bus drivers or airline pilots. Noting that three out of four drug users are employed, McCaffrey blamed drugs for "enormous accident rates, litigation, absenteeism, ineffectiveness in the workplace."
Educating young people and their parents about the dangers of drugs is another purpose of the new U.S. policy, McCaffrey said. Referring to the overall Decline in drug use over the last fifteen years, McCaffrey said, "There is considerable reason to believe that when we take concerted action, when the news media focuses on the question, when parents and educators and community coalitions get organized and address the new generation that it works and drug abuse comes down." (192K AIFF or WAV sound)
Secretary Shalala noted that, "Increasing numbers of Americans believe that marijuana is not harmful. In California and in Arizona, voters sent very confusing messages to the teenagers in those states and to young people all across the country, and let me make it very clear: This administration is opposed to the legalization of marijuana." (160K AIFF or WAV sound)
Noting that the National Insitutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration would not shirk from their responsibilities to approve safe and effective medicines for the public, McCaffrey read from a list of ailments, issued by California's medical advisor, which supposedly could be alleviated by marijuana. They included memory loss, cough, Parkinson's Disease and writer's cramp.
"The National Institutes of Health will continue to review the claims about the possible benefit of smoked marijuana for a small number of indications," Shalala said. So far, she said, no evidence has shown there to be any. (160K AIFF or WAV sound)
In a warning to doctors, Shalala said, "Most of all, our health care professionals need to understand that federal law has not changed, that it continues to be illegal in the United States to prescribe marijuana."
Reinforcing Shalala's point, Reno told reporters that government law is not affected by the California and Arizona initatives, and that laws against illegal drugs would be enforced. (256K AIFF or WAV sound)
"We will not turn a blind eye toward our responsibilty to enforce the law and to preserve the integrity of the medical and scientific process to determine if drugs have medical value before allowing them to be used," Reno said.
"The two initiatives in Arizona and California attempt to sidestep this very important scientific and medical process," Reno continued. "Despite these initiatives, we want to make clear that federal law still applies, and federal officials will continue to apply the law, as it has always done on a case-by-case basis." (160K AIFF or WAV sound)
The government strategy was devised with input from all Cabinet departments. Clinton endorsed the plan last week after reviewing its recommendations.
Copyright © 1997 AllPolitics All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this information is provided to you.