Department of Justice Seal

Prepared Remarks of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales
at the Monitoring the Future Press Conference

Washington, D.C.
December 21, 2006

Thank you, Director Walters.

I am proud to be here as part of this announcement. These survey results are encouraging and we should all be pleased with the progress we've made since 2001.

Coming on the heels of National Methamphetamine Awareness Day, I am especially gratified by the advances made in keeping young people away from meth. The Monitoring the Future survey indicates that methamphetamine use by young people is down significantly since 2001 — by more than 40 percent for all young people in the survey combined.

That's good news, but our work is not done.

We must see our progress today as an opportunity to set new, even more ambitious goals. We must look for creative ways to spread the message to our children that illegal drug use is not a solution to their problems.

Every young person deserves the opportunity to rise to his fullest potential. Every child who reports that she did not experiment with drugs is one more child who could go on to do great things.

I am encouraged by the trend of decreased meth use by young people, but as we made clear last month at National Meth Awareness Day, there is a growing problem of abuse by adults, especially among women.

At the Department of Justice we remain committed to enforcing our nation's drug laws and reducing the supply of these dangerous substances. For our fight, the President and Congress have given us useful tools like the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act, and we intend to use them to disrupt the production and trafficking of meth on both national and international levels.

I believe that our hard work and some of our innovative approaches have contributed to the trends we see in this report. The efforts of the Drug Enforcement Administration have been outstanding, and I would like to thank Deputy Administrator Michele Leonhart for being here today.

The Department of Justice has formed partnerships with state and local law enforcement and has launched programs like our Consolidated Priority Organization Target list, which focuses on the largest drug trafficking organizations.

Over the past five years we've made tremendous progress in reducing the number of small meth labs in the United States, from more than 17,000 in 2004 to about 12,500 in 2005 -- and preliminary data indicate the number won’t go above 9,000 this year.

And we have taken concrete steps to reduce demand as well. We have formed partnerships with community groups like Boys and Girls Clubs of America so that we can get our message directly to young people. And we are developing a National Drug Endangered Children Resource Center to ensure that states have the appropriate tools and training to save children from drug environments and break the cycle of addiction. Today's survey gives us hope that our education and awareness efforts are paying off and helping to keep kids away from drugs.

Now I'd like to turn the podium back over to Dr. Volkow.