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U.S .

Senator for Kentucky

For Immediate Release
September 4, 1996

Mr. Chairman, members of the Judiciary Committee, I appreciate the opportunity to

testify today on the upsurge in drug use among our nation's young people. Drug use by teens
has reached epidemic proportions.

The number of teenagers using drugs has more than doubled since 1992 and surged by
one-third since 1994 . How do these alarming statistics translate in the real world of our kids?
It means that across America in every junior high and senior high school
classroom of 25 students, almost three are now using drugs .
It means that one in three high school seniors now smokes marijuana .
And it means that almost 50% of the class of 1995 had tried drugs by the time
of their graduation .
My children have all completed high school, but what these facts tell me is that my
youngest daughter, who graduated high school this year, had a significantly greater chance of
being exposed to drugs than her older sisters, who graduated when we were achieving some
success against teenage drug use . This reality is simply frightening .

I don't think it's possible to overstate the problem facing our nation . Drugs are once
again glorified in music and movies . Teens idolize rock stars who are again dying from
heroin overdoses, as they did in a previous generation that came of age in the 1960's .
A decade ago, we were meeting the challenge and teaching young people about the

dangers of drugs . But their fear has ebbed, and instead it has become "cool" once again to
use drugs .


As a nation , we cannot afford to tolerate drug use . Its consequences are devastating :
emergency-room episodes drain health care resources ; a decline in productivity on the job
hurts the econom y ; and the p ersonal toll on a famil y ensnared b y drug s is incalculable .

FAX (202) 228-3416 . SR-361A, WASHINGTON, D .C. 20510-1702 .



0 , ..

Mr . Chairman, we must redouble our efforts to fight a drug war . Today, I want to
talk about the scourge of marijuana and urge this Committee to act on a bill I introduced
earlier this year, S . 1790, the Enhanced Marijuana Penalties Act .
It's clear that marijuana is more available to our teens than ever before . Some 3 .2
million teens have used marijuana in the past year, up from 1 .4 million in 1992 . Those who
use marijuana as teens are 79 times more likely to become addicted to drugs as adults .
The fact is, more teens are smoking marijuana than are smoking cigarettes . According
to a 1994 Columbia University study, 26 .1% of 16 and I7-year-olds have smoked marijuana,
compared to 20 .5% who have smoked cigarettes . And, an internal White House study
disproves the commonly held view that cigarettes lead to marijuana . The fact is that most
marijuana users start with marijuana, not with cigarettes . We need to better enforce laws that
are on the books to deter teen smoking, and I'm proud to say that Kentucky is leading the
way on that front, passing its own anti-youth smoking initiative, even though it is obviously a
tobacco-producing state . But this issue can hardly be compared with the complete abdication
of the war on menacing, addictive drugs .
Marijuana is a dangerous substance, particularly among teens who have not completed
their growing process . Not only does marijuana impair short-term memory, core motor
functions and the ability to concentrate, but it also can cause chronic bronchitis, acute chest
illness, heightened risk of pulmonary infection and lung disease . Prenatal exposure to
marijuana causes impaired intellectual ability in young children ; in short, low IQ babies .
And, THC, the principal psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, has been found to be addictive
in lab rats.
So, it's time to get tough with those who sell marijuana to our most vulnerable citizens
-- children . Current law contains disparities in sentencing for drug dealers . Only if a
marijuana dealer has'100 kilos, with a street value of about $1 million, will he get the 5-year
mandatory minimum . Contrast that with the cocaine or heroin dealer caught with significantly
less -- 500 grams for cocaine and 100 grams of heroin -- to receive the 5-year mandatory
minimum .
Clearly, we should be as tough on marijuana dealers -- who are more likely to be
selling to our kids -- as we are on heroin and cocaine pushers .
So, my bill lowers the threshold quantities of marijuana for the imposition of
mandatory minimums . It makes the penalties for selling marijuana comparable to those for
selling heroin and cocaine, based on the street value of the drugs .
If we want to send a message to our kids that we will have zero tolerance for drugs,
let's get tough with those who are selling to our kids .
Thank you Mr . Chairman, and the Committee .

FAX (202) 228-3416 . SR-361A, WASHINGTON, D .C. 20510-1702 .


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