By Elise Viebeck - 06/10/12 10:00 AM EDT
Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) called on the Obama administration to use First Lady Michelle Obama or Vice President Joe Biden to start a "high-level national dialogue" on illegal drugs.
"While there are several effective drug prevention programs throughout the U.S. government, political leadership on illegal drug prevention must come from the top," a report from the two senators noted.
Feinstein and Grassley are co-chairs of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control. Their report outlined strategies to combat drug abuse and the violence it prompts, recommending new education campaigns and probation programs, among other tactics.
"There are multiple causes behind the demand for illegal drugs, so there has to be a multifaceted solution to the problem," Grassley said in a statement.
"The dramatic escalation of violence in drug supplying countries might … give some potential U.S. drug users pause if they were informed of the consequences their use has on other nations," he said.
Feinstein noted that 50,000 people in Mexico have been killed by drug-related violence in the last five years.
"Unfortunately, almost 9 percent of the U.S. population used illegal drugs in 2010, so it’s hard to argue that enough is being done to reduce demand," she said.
"Only if we address the country’s appetite for illicit drug use can we prevent drug trafficking and the violence and loss of life it brings throughout Latin America and the Caribbean."
The senators' report stated that drug abuse costs the United States $193 billion annually "in preventable healthcare, law enforcement and addiction expenses."
Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), James Risch (R-Idaho) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) are also members of the caucus.