Speech

Asa Hutchinson
Director
Drug Enforcement Administration
National Foundation for Women Legislators Press Conference
Washington, DC
May 23, 2002

(Note: The Director often deviates from prepared remarks.)

  • As I speak here from the nation's capital, women legislators and DEA agents are joining me at state capitals and communities in all 50 states to draw attention to a serious problem of club drugs—drugs like Ecstasy, which are fast becoming the number one drug problem facing our youth in the cities of our nation. We're coming together to confront this issue in a bi-partisan way.

  • Today is an important day in our fight against drugs. It's the first time the DEA has had a national partnership of this scope. It's the first time the Women Legislators have come together--not only among themselves--but with law enforcement and prevention groups to tackle our nation's drug problem.

  • It is a drug problem international in scope. But it is an international problem with neighborhood solutions.

  • It's a partnership that's needed because youth today are being misled by those who seek to profit off of addiction and misery. Our kids are being told that club drugs like Ecstasy are safe. But we know better. These drugs are deadly. And we must work together to educate parents and youth about the deadly danger of club drugs that casts a dark shadow over this summer's activities.

  • We face a very real challenge. Between 1998 and 2001, Ecstasy use among teenagers nearly doubled. It is feared that the number could double again in another 5 years.

  • There are a number of special concerns about club drugs:

    1. The profit margin is enormous: cost to manufacture an Ecstasy tablet is about 25 cents. They sell retail for about $25.

    2. It comes in pill form: easy to conceal, appears in form to be safer because it looks like medicine.

    3. The supply is creating the market. Youth are targeted, youth are told it is safe. How wrong that is!

  • The DEA is working with our law enforcement partners across the country and internationally taking apart Ecstasy trafficking organizations that supply this dangerous drug to our communities. We're having success with that.

  • But our fight against drugs is more than a battle against traffickers. It's a battle against misinformation--the kind that tells our youth that Ecstasy and other club drugs are somehow safe. It's the perception that so long as they drink enough water or take small amounts of Ecstasy, no harm will come.

  • That can be a deadly distortion. Just two days ago, an 18-year-old California girl died after taking Ecstasy at her senior prom. The girl had told her sister she planned to take the drug. Her sister told her to be careful. Would her sister have said to be careful if the girl was going to use heroin or crack or methamphetamine? Probably not—her warning would have been not to do those drugs. And that's the misperception with Ecstasy—that it's different, safer, better than other illegal drugs.

  • Today, we stand together so that no teenager will ever stand alone when they face that kind of misinformation. Our purpose is public awareness and a call for public education and action. Today, we will begin arming our youth with the facts. Like the fact that Ecstasy use can cause brain damage and users can—and do—become dependent on the drug. Facts like Ecstasy can heat your body up to temperatures as high as 105 to 117 degrees.

  • We have joined forces at a unique time in our history—when Americans are focused on strengthening our country. After the September 11th attacks, Americans came to understand as never before the kind of destruction drug money funds. The consequences of drug abuse are far greater than the individual or even the family or community.

  • We have a new opportunity to achieve success in the anti-drug effort. We at the DEA are proud to partner with women legislators to make a lasting impact on America's next generation. Thank you. ##
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