ACCESSION NUMBER:215051 FILE ID:EP-311 DATE:02/05/92 TITLE:MARTINEZ ASKS CONGRESS TO BACK BUSH ANTIDRUG PROGRAM (02/05/92) TEXT:*92020427.ARF *EPF311 02/05/92 MARTINEZ ASKS CONGRESS TO BACK BUSH ANTIDRUG PROGRAM (Testimony before Senate Judiciary panel) (630) By Wendy S. Ross USIA Staff Writer Washington -- Since 1988 the United States has made "significant strides in reducing the number of drug users and preventing many from using drugs for the first time," but more needs to be done to reach the hard-core addict population, Governor Bob Martinez told the Senate Judiciary Committee February 4. "While the overall number of drug users has dropped dramatically since 1988," the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy said, "progress has also been made among our hard-core addict population, albeit more slowly. "It remains critical that Congress not only provide the overall level of funding requested," Martinez said, "but that it also fully fund certain critical programs" to deal with the hard-core addict population. "Once we start targeting and focusing where these problems are, I really believe we can begin to make gains there," he said. Martinez appeared before the committee to brief its members on the 1dministration's fourth National Drug Control Strategy, which was unveiled by President Bush at a White House ceremony January 27. The Administration is seeking $12,700 million for federal antidrug programs in fiscal 1993. This, Martinez said, represents a 6.4 percent increase over last year and a $6,100 million -- or 93 percent increase -- since the beginning of the Bush administration. Martinez said some drug addicts -- mostly older-aged users of other drugs, mainly cocaine -- have switched to heroin. The retail price of heroin has dropped slightly, the purity has increased, and seizures have increased, he said. "This data is cause for concern, but not hysteria," he said, adding that it repeats patterns seen in previous waves of stimulant addiction. The administration is increasing its law enforcement and intelligence efforts in New York, a major heroin importation and distribution center, Martinez said. Most of the world's opium is produced in Asia and the number of U.S. consumers represents about 6 percent of the worldwide market, he added. ONDCP official John Walters said that poppy cultivation is also occurring in Colombia; but the government has eradicated 2,000 hectares of poppies, and as of January 31 has agreed to use aerial spraying, he said, praising its approach as "extremely aggressive." Martinez said President Bush and Andean leaders will meet in San Antonio, Texas February 26 and 27 to discuss ways to further intensify efforts in source countries to stop the cultivation, production, and distribution of illegal drugs in the region. Judiciary Committee Chairman Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D.-Delaware) made public a 200-page alternative drug strategy prepared by the majority staffs of the Judiciary Committee and the International Narcotics Control Caucus. The alternative drug proposal calls for a new heroin strategy to combat the reemergence of heroin as a major drug of abuse, which includes proposing an end to MFN status for China, a major transit nation, as well as a Pacific Rim Summit on the Heroin Trade, to try to duplicate the cooperative efforts underway in the Andes. It also calls for reducing military aid to the Andean nations by 50 percent and shifting those funds into economic assistance for those countries. The alternative proposal "is not a total rejection of the Administration proposal," he said, but is there to add to the debate over what must be done. Biden said he plans to introduce a "major" antidrug bill in the Senate within the next month so the drug issue "will not drop from sight" and "be submerged" by other matters. Biden painted the legislative, executive relationship on the drug issue as one of "creative friction" and said progress can result from that relationship. NNNN .