President Bush says Americans who buy illegal drugs are helping fund international terrorists. Mr. Bush unveiled his national drug control program Tuesday, telling drug producing nations that he will work to cut the demand for drugs in the United States.
President Bush says illegal drug use not only contributes to the breakdown of American families, it helps fund the nation's enemies.
"Drugs undermine the health of our citizens, they destroy the souls of our children, and the drug trade supports terrorist networks," he said. "When people purchase drugs, they put money in the hands of those who want to hurt America and hurt our allies."
President Bush says the former Taleban rulers of Afghanistan made "significant" amounts of money from the country producing 70 percent of the world's opium trade. He says that is money that went to feed and hide those responsible for the terrorist attacks of September 11. When Americans fight drugs, Mr. Bush says, they fight the war on terror.
The president's drug control plan calls for more than $19 billion to stop drug use before it starts while helping to treat those Americans who already have a drug problem. Mr. Bush says his program will also disrupt the drug market by reducing domestic demand ten percent over the next two years and 25 percent over the next five years.
The president says reducing demand will come in homes and schools and places of worship where he says Americans must reaffirm the values of responsibility and good citizenship while dismissing the idea that drug use reflects individual freedom.
"The best way to affect supply is to reduce demand for drugs," he said. "We can work as hard as we possibly want on interdiction, but so long as there is demand for drugs in this country, some crook is going to figure out how to get them here."
Drug use among American youth has stabilized over the last few years but still remains close to an all-time high with researchers saying one out of every two teenagers has tried an illegal drug by twelfth grade. President Bush says that puts the fight against drugs in the center of his national agenda not only to help Americans struggling with drug addiction but to help friendly governments eradicate the drug trade.
"As demand goes down, so will supply," he said. "As we reduce demand in America, it will take the pressure off of our friends in the south. It will make it easier for our friends in Mexico to deal with the drug problem. It will make it easier for Colombia to be able to deal with the growers and the mobsters who tend to wreak havoc in your country."
The president's plan includes more than $2 billion for drug interdiction with $730 million to fund the Andean Counterdrug Initiative to stop the production of illegal drugs in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela.