Kelly: U.S. Must ‘Get Into the Business of Drug-Demand Reduction’

Susan Jones | February 7, 2017 | 12:25pm EST
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A firearm and 154 pounds of heroin worth at least $50 million are displayed at a Drug Enforcement Administration news conference, Tuesday, May 19, 2015 in New York. (AP File Photo)

( - "I have a lot of experience with drugs, not taking them of course, but interdicting them," Homeland Security Secretary Gen. Jack Kelly told Congress on Tuesday. "If the drugs are in the United States, we've lost."

Kelly urged Congress to work with his department to "get into the business of drug-demand reduction."

Kelly said countries south of the United States are saying, "How about stop lecturing us about not doing enough to stop the drug flow; how about you stop the demand, and then the drug flow will go away.”

"And I'd like to think, as we go forward, that this Congress, myself, Homeland Security would maybe get into the business of drug-demand reduction, because that's what's killing our folks."

Kelly noted that there's been a heroin problem in this country since the 1960s and 1970s, but until recently, the problem was found mostly in inner-city black neighborhoods as well as Hispanic and working-class neighborhoods.

"And for decades, I guess as a society, we said, well, so long as it's just there, who cares. All of a sudden, kids are dying in New Hampshire in large numbers, on the college campuses of places like Harvard, Stanford and Capitol Hill and Nob Hill and Beacon Hill in Boston. Now it's a big issue.

"I think we should capitalize on the fact that it's got people's attention and somehow put together a drug-reduction strategy that works and can reduce the number of people using drugs.”

Kelly said "yes," strengthening the southern border with Mexico would help.

"I think a huge partner here is Mexico. And if we can help them get after the poppy production, as an example; if we can help them get after the production labs, if we can help them get after the heroin, methamphetamine as it's moving in relatively large amounts before it gets to the border. We're never going to get to zero," he said.

But Kelly called it "embarrassing" that we do not have a demand reduction program in the United States to stop the use of drugs.

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