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to allow our young people to have some kind of idea about that. So I think the only way you will deal with it,we will never stop all of those labs because they can create them so fast. We certainly need to work on the law enforcement side, but also we have got to work on the demand side. We have got to work in education. There is an awful lot to be done in this area.
Mr. HUGHES. There is no question that we need a strategy that includes education, demand reduction and treatment. It is disgraceful that in my own State alone, New Jersey, we have 10,000 hard core addicts walking around that want help, that need help, that we can't reach. We have 3- and 4-month waiting lists of hard core addicts that want help that we can't reach. And they are out on the street committing crimes every day to pay for their habit.
Senator CHILES. I am sure they are committing crimes to feed that habit.
Mr. HUGHES. So, you know, you are absolutely right. We had a fight in committee just a week ago trying to get resources to do what needs to be done in prosecuting cases. I mean, we just passed a number of laws, and it relates to your point that it doesn't stop with passing a law. We had a tremendous battle trying to provide resources for prisons, for U.S. attorneys, for programs that are needed to deal with the drug abuse problem.
We talk about it but we have yet to come to grips with it and get serious about it across the board-developing a national strategy and providing the kind of leadership that the States are looking for to deal adequately with the problem.
I thank you very much for your testimony. You have been extremely helpful.
Senator CHILES. Thank you very much.
I am delighted to welcome my senior citizen from Florida here to testify. I think this is the first time the Senator has been before one of my subcommittees and I really look forward and have looked forward to this for some time. As you know, he is not just known for budgeting but a lot of other things, and this is a good example of that. I am delighted you are here, Lawton.
Mr. HUGHES. Would the gentleman yield to me?
Mr. McCOLLUM. That is right. What did I say?
Mr. McCOLLUM. Did I say that? Senior Senator is what I meant to say. Good grief. Thank you for correcting the record.
Senator CHILES. I am getting closer and closer to that. [Laughter.]
Mr. McCOLLUM. That is right. I don't know where my mind was. I am taking Spanish now, Lawton. Maybe I am thinking in Spanish somewhere.
I want to quote to you a statement that was given to me recently that I understand a chemist told a DEA agent, and I just ask your reaction to it, if I may. He says that this chemist, who was making these controlled substance analogs, told him that:
Another point to keep in mind is that I can easily prepare new, unregulated, and completely legal designer drugs by just altering the structures of the fentanyls a bit. The only problem is that we have no way of knowing how potent they are until someone uses them. Perhaps in future deals I can supply you with new, legal fentanyls, that you can get them tested. If one turns up good and potent, we have a true gold mine on our hands because it will be absolutely to sell and use it. Keep it in mind.
You know, that type of ability to go out on the street and get somebody to even admit that seems to me to be a dastardly indictment of this situation. Is this not really the heart of the problem we are talking about?
Senator CHILES. Oh, I think it is. And the fact that under our existing law now they can change their substances so quickly that there is no way we can keep up with them. By the time that we go through the process of finding it, scheduling it, registering it, and getting it into the registry, they are out on the street with another substance, or well could be, and what they are doing is basically legal.
Mr. McCOLLUM. I want to ask a question, Lawton, to you about what did or didn't take place in the Senate hearings. As I understand, we are going to have some complaints from people in research that the broader laws that you proposed and that are before us today would inhibit that research. My understanding from staff is that really wasn't raised as a serious matter during your hearings over there.
Senator CHILES. No; I don't think it was. I don't think we really ran into that.
Mr. McCOLLUM. Do you see that as a problem? Have you reflected on that at all?
Senator CHILES. I certainly don't see any evidence of that intent in the language of my bill. And I don't know exactly what they are raising, but it seems to me that basically what we are saying is if you make an attempt to sell and distribute something that has the same illegal properties of heroin, cocaine, or other scheduled illegal drugs, that can be a crime. Now I don't see how that should prohibit research.
Mr. McCOLLUM. I don't think so, either.
Senator CHILES. It may be that something in the hearing record or in the statement of managers or in the bill itself can alleviate some fear, but I see nothing in what the intent of our bill is.
Mr. McCOLLUM. I don't see it either on the surface, but I thought I would ask you straight up because I hadn't had a chance to privately even, and I wondered about it.
Senator CHILES. Yes, sir. It is something that wasn't raised on our side to my knowledge.
Mr. McCOLLUM. Is there any reason why the bill that you have over there calls these “controlled substance analogs?” Is that just technical, or did you have some intent to move away from using the term “designer drugs” because it is too glamourous a term, or is it just a technical thing in the legislation?
Senator CHILES. I think it was just to try to get more to the technical effect of what they are.
Mr. McCOLLUM. Well, both my other colleagues are going to get to question you next. They have been at the forefront of preparing this legislation for us over here today. And I am going to yield and let them go ahead and ask you some. But really and truly it is a pleasure to have you before my subcommittee as the senior Senator, and I appreciate that-from my State.
Senator CHILES. Thank you, Señor. [Laughter.]
Mr. HUGHES. The gentleman from Florida, Mr. Smith, is recognized for 5 minutes.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you. Thank you, Senator, for a fine presentation. I also want to compliment you on having been a leader in the Senate on this issue over the last number of years, not only out of concern for the problem and the people that are ultimately the victims, but also out of concern for the way our State has been inundated as the entry point. I think it was very important that you made a statement which I have been saying since my years in the State legislature also: it may come in here, folks, but it doesn't all get used up here, and it always winds up going around the rest of the United States. People ought to be aware that maybe it started in California with designer drugs but we are already seeing them in Florida and in other places in the country. If you are from Montana or Maine or New Mexico, you are not going to be immune. They are going to come and they are going to cause death, injury, and trauma wherever they pervade. So I really do appreciate what you have done in the Senate and I am glad that you are here helping us promote what we intend to do in the House.
I have a question because Mr. Lungren's bill is the Senate bill. My bill goes a little further; it also deals with the Attorney General and asking that agency for a study of the precursor chemicals. I think it is not enough just to in fact make the penalty stiffer, make it illegal by virtue of its effect, rather than by its analog content, but to do something more than just get on the drug itself after it has been manufactured. My bill talks about the reality of getting some kind of controls as much as practicable because they are, a lot of them, used in everyday commerce, just like acetone and ether are used in everyday commerce in this country for a myriad of manufacturing processes. Although they happen to be perverted into use in the cocaine compounding, you couldn't get rid of them. They are a necessary ingredient in our manufacturing chain. The same thing with a lot of these chemicals that are used by the wizards, so to speak, these evil geniuses, to compound other chemicals.
I was wondering how you feel about that. Whether you feel it is important that the Attorney General does a study of these precursor chemicals.
Senator CHILES. Oh, I think that is very important, yes. And I want to thank you for your efforts continually. There is no one that I know of who has been more concerned from your days in the State legislature. You came up here with that kind of concern and said you were going to get into some of the committees where you could continue that battle, and I see that you have certainly done that.
I think a study such as you say is very important. For this reason I introduced S. 1746 to require the Attorney General to conduct a study of those chemicals which are precursors of illicit drugs. One of the big problems we found, Mr. Chairman, in Florida is our coroners don't pick them up. We find what we think is just an overdose death. It is months later or you have to accumulate a number of these before somebody says wait a minute, that person had certain symptoms, that you think maybe that was a designer drug. And we were late sort of picking them up in Florida. We suspected them first before we knew they were there. A number of the local people tell me, if we knew more what we were looking for. So we have talked with DEA about this. There is going to be a conference in California I think in a few months in which some of that information will be put together, and they say they will share that. So that also is something that we need to do, have everybody know what information we have found.
Sometimes, they tell me, it takes several months even in the labs up here to be able to positively identify a new analog and a new designer drug. So that is something we need as well.
Mr. SMITH. You are right. And that is what happened, obviously, with the fentanyl. I mean, the way that can be cut and used and changed in its molecular chain.
Senator CHILES. Right.
Mr. SMITH. What you just said is important, too, to carry out what, in essence, have been what you have attempted from the very beginning as well, and that is to make all of us work together to do this. This is not a Federal problem. It is not a State problem. It is not a local problem, but an everybody problem.
Senator CHILES. It is.
Mr. SMITH. I know both you and the chairman have been in the forefront of trying to get all the law enforcement agencies in this country to cooperate at every level on these particular issues. We had over the years, as you know, and still do sometimes, the turf battles, the jealousies, the petty guarding of whatever assets they have, the inability to get people to merge their intelligence and to merge their assets.
Senator CHILES. Yes, sir.
Mr. SMITH. It really has to stop. And in this case, since transportation doesn't come from outside the United States, since it is small and not in bulk like it was, we need to be more effective now in searching out where they are making it, tracking the chemicals, finding the distribution points, than we ever were before because it is a whole new bureaucratic process set up.
Senator CHILES. It really is.
Mr. SMITH. We don't have to look now at the Bahamas or the Colombian planes or ships coming in. We have to be concerned now about that nice looking house over on 242 Elm Street where in the basement, as you said, somebody is making 2 or 3 pounds, a kilo, which turns out to be 2 to 3 million dollars' worth of doses.
Senator CHILES. It is interesting to note that some of the labs for designer drugs in California were broken up not by law enforcement people, but by organized crime people, because they felt it was interrupting their sales and distribution that had been set up for heroin, for the illegal drugs that come in. Now at what stage do those same organized crime people decide hey, wait a minute, we don't just need to break up their labs, we will merge with them, so to speak. We will buy the small company. We will take it on and we will put it into our operation. That is where I think the real potential danger is.
Mr. SMITH. Well, I think you are right, and I think that is why this is so urgent. It is a very, very difficult problem. And the results of the use of it has dramatically been brought home by the tape you provided and the one Mr. Lungren provided. They show us that we don't have any alternative to acting and acting right now. And I want to congratulate you again.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. HUGHES. The gentleman from California is recognized for 5 minutes.
Mr. LUNGREN. I want to thank you, Senator, also, for the work that you have done on this. I know when I started to look at this and was working with the Justice Department, as I know you were, to come up with proper legislation, it was very difficult to figure how we would define the universe we were talking about.
Senator CHILES. Yes, sir.
Mr. LUNGREN. And initially, some people said, well, let's try and come up with all of the analogs that we can do in computer runs of already existing controlled substances and put those on there. And as you pointed out, the problem is as you start to do that you sort of give people clues as to where they go if they don't need it. The second problem that we came up with is that the list appears to be almost infinite. We have got some smart people working on the other side.
And I resolved in my own mind the only way we could do it was with the broad brush. The question of if you have an intent to create a chemical analog that is substantially the same in chemical composition or has substantially the same effect. Do you think that that is overly broad? That as some people have suggested, we have defined it so broadly that we are going to put people in jeopardy of chemical prosecution when that is not
what we want to do? How do you resolve that when someone asks you that particular question?
Senator CHILES. Well, I agree with what you said-intent. You still have to prove the intent. And as we know from any kind of experience with criminal law, that is a heavy burden. And I don't think that anyone who is engaged in research or, you know, other legal activity, need have much fear if the law enforcement officials or the prosecutor has got to prove criminal intent. That is, it is done with an intent to produce and to sell, to distribute this kind of product.
In any of these things you have to weigh what you are doing. I might say that there is some concern in my mind, and I think what we are talking about there will be a test, as we know, as to whether this is too broad or not, whether we will be able to uphold it. But I think it is so important to try to close this door, this obvious loophole, and to close it as soon as we can. We need to go forward, and I think the bill is a reasonable, prudent attempt to do that. I think we should go forward with it.
And I congratulate you that you have introduced the version, the Justice Department version on this side.
Mr. LUNGREN. I appreciate those remarks. I think the point that I would like to underscore is that if the situation were not as bad as it is, if the danger were not as great as it is, if the circumstances were not so dire, then perhaps we wouldn't go to this approach. But as you say, it is a balancing act. And when you have this hor