Tony Newman at (646) 335-5384 or Bill Piper at (202) 669-6330
The following is a statement from Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance.
“While it is certainly good news that teen use of illegal drugs appears to be falling, almost this entire decline is because fewer teens are using marijuana. Teen use of hard drugs like cocaine and heroin has remained steady, and illegal use of many prescription drugs is increasing. The Bush Administration needs to look at the whole picture of students’ behaviors and advance pragmatic strategies that hold the health, safety and well being of young people as the bottom line. Young people want and respond to credible information and open dialogue, and students struggling with substance abuse need compassionate assistance. Drug abuse and the problems associated with drug addiction can be difficult to recover from but students may never recover from arrest and imprisonment for drug law violations, which generally mean the permanent loss of eligibility for federal student financial aid and serious impediments to employment. The number of people who use illegal drugs fluctuates from year to year, regardless of what the government does. What doesn’t change is many Americans’ lack of access to effective drug treatment. Policymakers need to make sure that treatment is available to anyone who needs it, whenever they need it, and for as long as they need it.”