June 24, 1982
I want to thank Carlton Turner, the Vice President and Nancy and these ladies and gentleman who are gathered here in front today, because they're all very much a part of the effort in fighting drug abuse. And I know what they're up against. I'm also aware of the good job that they've all been doing recently. So, one reason that they're here is so I can tip my hat to them.
All of us here know the situation is not hopeless. I was not present at the Battle of Verdun in World War I, but from that battle I learned of that horrendous time of an old French soldier who said something we could all heed. He said, ``There are no impossible situations. There are only people who think they're impossible.''
It's a matter in this drug abuse of getting out and doing something about a problem that for too long has been mainly discussed and debated. And I have heard from Nancy -- and I'm very proud of what she's been doing -- with regard to the various parent groups that have sprung up throughout the country, in visiting and learning there of their efforts and the success that they've had with regard to young people. And she's told me how effective education and prevention can be, and I know that she's going to continue in those efforts as all the others are.
On another front, the South Florida Task Force, under the guidance of the Vice President, will keep the pressure on that part of the country most vulnerable to drug smuggling.
And while I'm at it, I'd like to commend the cooperative efforts of law enforcement and health agencies at all levels which have been fighting a long, hard battle against the drug problem. And I also heartily applaud the education and prevention efforts, as I said before, of the parents' movement.
So, I asked all these people to get together here today -- as they probably haven't gathered in a group before -- to deal with the drug problem facing this nation. As in other areas of this administration, I want to seek new approaches. I want to get away from the fatalistic attitude of the late seventies and assert a positive approach that involves as many elements of this society as possible -- State and local officials, volunteer groups, parents, teachers, students, independent agencies, and law enforcement officials. I know that you who are here with us today have already laid the groundwork for this, and I'd like to ask you to report back to Dr. Turner within 2 weeks with what suggestions you may have for continuing and for our strategy.
Now, today I'm signing an Executive order naming Carlton Turner, Director of the Drug Abuse Policy Office, as the person responsible for overseeing all domestic and international drug functions. He'll head the new campaign against drug abuse.
Drugs already reach deeply into our social structure, so we must mobilize all our forces to stop the flow of drugs into this country, to let kids know the truth, to erase the false glamour that surrounds drugs, and to brand drugs such as marijuana exactly for what they are -- dangerous, and particularly to school-age youth.
We can put drug abuse on the run through stronger law enforcement, through cooperation with other nations to stop the trafficking, and by calling on the tremendous volunteer resources of parents, teachers, civic and religious leaders, and State and local officials.
We're rejecting the helpless attitude that drug use is so rampant that we're defenseless to do anything about it. We're taking down the surrender flag that has flown over so many drug efforts; we're running up a battle flag. We can fight the drug problem, and we can win. And that is exactly what we intend to do. And I, therefore, am now going to sign the order.
[The President signed the Executive order.]
Thank you all again.
Note: The President spoke at 11:16 a.m. at the signing ceremony in the Rose Garden at the White House. Earlier, he had met in the Roosevelt Room with the heads or representatives of 18 Federal departments and agencies with responsibilities in the areas of drug abuse, law enforcement, and health-related aspects of drug use.