Senator Amy Klobuchar on reducing drug sentences and getting people off drugs

thank you everyone. it is great to be
here, and it good to be here with Doctor (Joe) Lee, who is course the champion for us at Hazeldon and Betty Ford Foundation
in Minnesota as medical director for youth services. I met with him in the past and share
a lot of the beliefs that we have to get on the
things on the front and that’s why I am one of the cosponsors of this bill I’m I think you probably
heard about our state being the land of 10,000 lakes. we’re also the land of 10,000
treatment centers We truly believe in treating addiction and we’re proud of that
and some of you know I’ve spoken before that I’m a former prosecutor and was really involved in our drug
court and with congressman ramstad who continues
to carry that torch since he’s out of office, and I’ve done a lot with
drug courts here and I hope is we move forward with this bill and some of the other police bills that we may be drug
sentencing bills that I hope we’re going to be moving on– both Sheldon and I serve on the Judiciary Committee
that we make drug courts part those of those solutions as well and I always believe that we save a
lot of money when we use drug courts and we save a lot of money when we use
treatments and I know you believe that too or you wouldn’t be here today. I thought
I would talk a little bit about what we’re
seeing with youth drug addiction in our country we’ve seen a huge
problem in Minnesota lately with heroin in the
seven thousand-person community of Saint Francis Minnesota three young
people have died just to give you a sense of opiate overdoses out since last May another three young
man a bellhop hospitalized for heroin doses one was
only 15 years old and many have you who are
in the medical field know the long-term effects not only of that immediate overdose but the long-term effects on the brain when the adolescent brain is not fully mature. Youth drug use can unfortunately put a person at
risk for a lifelong struggle with addiction and ninety percent of Americans who meet
the medical criteria for addiction as you know I started smoking drinking or using other drugs before at the age of18 and so that’s why I think
the continued use of the drug courts and continued press and I think we’re finally in addition to the bill that we
have , we’re finally seeing a different approach to sentencing
in this country there was just an article about the presidential campaign and I think for the first time I
we’re gonna see something a little bit different than a tough on crime approach will there be some of that I’m sure I
think you’re also gonna see candidate and both sides of the aisle being
willing to talk about reducing some of these
federal drug sentences and so once they talk about that that’s
great but I think we all know that can’t be the only thing Because if they only say that as I know from having
had jurisdiction over areas really low income areas poor
areas in my state and in my then county I I know that if you just say that a lot
of the people that suffer are gonna be the people in those communities
so accompanying these lower drug sentences as should be money for treatment and
should be looking at these cases differently
so that if you’re not going to use prison for certain offenses which often times can be the right answer then
you’re gonna make sure that there are some alternatives so the people get off drugs or if they’re coming out
of prison that there is some kinda reentry program which is one of the bills as well that
includes help so they don’t get back on drugs and
get right back into that cycle. I think there’ll be be a group us that will be
fighting that side as well as the issue which is probably the most but
I guess you could say popular and radioactive however you want
to look at it but the most I think getting garnering the interest in
the media is gonna be reducing the sentences and that’s good but it’s gotta come with a look at
treatment and so that’s going to be one of my causes moving forward the other thing that
we’re continuing to work on his prescription drug disposal as you know Senator Cornyn and I had that
prescription drug take-back bill and that bill was important but
took a really long time to get the rules out and finally last fall the DEA finalized the rules to implement the
secure and responsible drug disposal act the rules aren’t perfect but they’re
an important step we know there’s that really need for action in the end of
September over 300 tons of unused drugs was collected at one of those take back days across
the country if you can imagine so we want to have this be more of a routinized where the pharmacies would actually take them back as you now I think it’s
four out of five heroin addicts now get started with
prescription drugs and the more we can do to try to get
those drugs out of the medicine cabinets some of this has to do with nursing
homes and how we’re going to handle those but we would ultimately we can’t require
the pharmacies to do it — that’s not gonna happen but
some of them appeared to be interested a few years
ago and we put these rules in place to make it easier to do so. The last thing I wanted
to mention with synthetic drugs that’s something I’ve worked on for a long
time in terms of making sure we were adding drugs to the schedule but also
that we keep an eye on that because we’re continuing to see that is an easy
way at a sell drugs over the Internet and and
easy way to get around requirements there some legal
changes not really the subject of your work today it can be made it easier to prove these
up with something called the analog statute and something I’ve been working on in the past with senator grassley and senator Schumer and will continue to do but I’m really
excited about the group of senators that we have on this bill it’s what do they call it the Young Turks right it’s kind of a new group senators that I think has some
credibility and we’re excited to be the four heading
this up and then to move forward with this
issue and also to carry the torch for so
many that came before us I know senator kennedy had been such
an advocate for drug courts and its maybe and now an irony that now Jim Ramstad was a sponsor for Patrick Kennedy when he had his
drug abuse problems and so our connection between these two states continues
we’re proud of our work in Minnesota I know you’re going to hear from Doctor Lee later on on a
panel and we’re gonna continue that work but let’s
feel excited about this bill. just think about where we came from
we come from everyone just running commercials about longer drug sentences
to people actually Republicans and Democrats talking about reducing drug
sentences and then we have this bill that is
a strong bipartisan effort to focus more on addiction and some
of the real underlying causes I think your work has made some great
strides so if it gets frustrating sometimes being in this building believe me I know actually my lowest
point with the fiscal cliff a couple years ago where literally this
was true we were having that you know the taxes
were gonna go up for everyone we had to make that decision and we had to do it by midnight and
there I was shortly before midnight that magic moment of New Years Eve when the
clock strikes 12 I looked to my left I see Harry Reid I look to my right I see
Mitch McConnell every girl’s dream on New Years Day and
and since that time we got through
the shutdown we got through the shutdown and now
we’re headed to actually getting some things done
we’re gonna announce something on patent reform and I’m actually excited about the possibilities and this
is one of the things that I would predict maybe next year or at least within
the next two years we’re gonna have some major bill pass
and I want it to be this one so thank you everyone for what you’ve done and
keep up the good work. Thank you. (applause)

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