Attorney General Calls for Stepped-Up Drug Education Efforts With PM-Bennett-Meese Bjt
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Attorney General Edwin Meese III, calling the government’s sweeping marijuana eradication program a success, says a companion educational campaign is needed ″to get kids away from drugs.″
″All the enforcement efforts that we can try in this country, all the police agencies both in this nation and worldwide will never be able to stem the supply of drugs in this nation until we have first decreased the number of users and have decreased the demand for these drugs,″ Meese said Wednesday.
In a speech to a conference here of the Knights of Columbus, a lay Roman Catholic church organization, the attorney general gave rave reviews to the Justice Department’s coast-to-coast, marijuana search-and-destroy mission.
″Already, this week alone, we have confiscated and eradicated over 200,000 marijuana plants ... confiscated numerous weapons, taken over greenhouses where marijuana was being grown, taken apart booby traps that were used to prevent the law enforcement agents from getting into the fields,″ Meese said.
He added: ″At the same time we are going forward with a parallel effort to warn our citizens everywhere that the education campaign and the prevention campaign must be equally as effective as the enforcement campaign against these drugs.″
Although many states have been involved for some time in efforts to destroy cultivated marijuana cannibis plants, approximately 2,200 federal, state and local law enforcement officers joined in a coordinated campaign to uproot the plants beginning Monday.
Through late Wednesday, the Drug Enforcement Administration said, authorities had burned, cut or otherwise destroyed some 225,000 cultivated plants and had made 133 arrests nationwide.
DEA spokesman Con Dougherty said that 52 firearms and other weapons had been seized and that 1,100 plots of marijuana had been sighted.
He said Missouri was leading all other states in the number of eradications - 41,600 through midday Wednesday.
Dougherty said the arrests were ″widely scattered″ across the country, although he added that Arkansas led in that category with 31.
″We’re not going to have any real hard and definitive figures″ on eradications and arrests until Thursday, the spokesman said.
Dougherty said the DEA headquarters had ″no reports of injuries″ to drug agents although ″there were some gunshots fired in Florida and a helicopter was fired upon in Arkansas.″
In addition, California authorities said that early Wednesday, dozens of gunshots were fired into a marijuana-raiding helicopter parked near houses occupied by the families of three sheriff’s deputies in Humboldt County. Nobody was reported injured or arrested.
Officials said the attackers hurled a fire bomb at the rear of the five- passenger helicopter in an unsuccessful attempt to destroy it, but the high- powered rifle shots knocked the aircraft out of commission and inflicted $60,000 damage.
Dougherty also said that federal and local agents ″came across about nine (marijuana) fields that were booby-trapped″ with such devices as bear traps and fish hooks.
Authorities in Missouri had said in advance of the eradication program that the major raids there would target the Mark Twain National Forest in Ripley County.
In his speech Wednesday, Meese said he was heartened by evidence that drug abuse among school-age young people is on the wane.
″ ... Drug use is a dumb thing to do, in the language of today’s kids,″ the attorney general said. He said young people should know drug use is ″not the wave of the future″ but ″it’s something that smart kids not only don’t do themselves, but encourage other members of their peer group not to do as well.″
″If there is one message that I can leave with you ... it is that we must provide a unified front to get kids away from drugs,″ Meese said.