WASHINGTON — President Reagan, preparing to unveil new measures to combat drug abuse, today decried "a culture of license that encourages drug use, promising kicks but delivering only despair and destruction."
The President spoke to 150 business leaders a few hours before going into a long Cabinet meeting to receive recommendations for steps to curb drug abuse, both on the trafficking and the consumption sides.
White House spokesman Larry Speakes said Reagan will decide on the recommendations this week and disclose some of his decisions in a nationally broadcast speech that he and his wife, Nancy, will make Sunday.
The First Lady, joining in the buildup for the Sunday speech, traveled to Harpers Ferry, W.Va., today for an anti-drug picnic and rally with schoolchildren and adults.
'Time . . . to Get Involved'
In his speech to chief executive officers of corporations, Reagan said he and the First Lady will be "addressing the nation with an urgent message: that now is the time to stand up and get involved and do something about drugs."
As the first couple was stepping up the speech-making on drug abuse, members of the House today continued debating legislation that would overhaul and steeply upgrade the government's war on drugs.
The House, among other things, approved an amendment which would permit sending U.S. troops to the nation's borders to enhance interdiction efforts, and also voted to give those military personnel some authority to make arrests of drug smugglers.
The vote was 237 to 177 for the proposal, overriding the objections of liberals who questioned the constitutionality of giving U.S. troops law enforcement authority.
Death Penalty Proposal
Speakes said the White House has not made a decision on whether to endorse a death penalty amendment being considered by the House in connection with a bipartisan bill to reinvigorate the war on drugs.
"We would have to make a judgment based on how this legislation is written, as to whether we would endorse this amendment," he said.
In his White House speech, Reagan said: "We must hold the sellers and users of illegal drugs accountable for their actions. We must seek ways to help users quit using and accept no excuses.
"None of us can rest while our children are still prey to pushers and a culture of license that encourages drug use, promising kicks but delivering only despair and destruction," said Reagan, who last month took a drug test to lead the way in his Administration's quest to encourage drug testing in the workplace.