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105th Congress                                            Rept. 105-629
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 2d Session                                                      Part 1
_______________________________________________________________________


 
           CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES TRAFFICKING PROHIBITION ACT

_______________________________________________________________________


                 July 16, 1998.--Ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

   Mr. McCollum, from the Committee on the Judiciary, submitted the 
                               following

                              R E P O R T

                        [To accompany H.R. 3633]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on the Judiciary, to whom was referred the 
bill (H.R. 3633) to amend the Controlled Substances Import and 
Export Act to place limitations on controlled substances 
brought into the United States from Mexico, having considered 
the same, reports favorably thereon without amendment and 
recommends that the bill do pass.

                           TABLE OF CONTENTS

                                                                  

                                                                 Page
Purpose and Summary........................................           1
Background and Need for the Legislation....................           2
Hearings...................................................           4
Committee Consideration....................................           4
Committee Oversight Findings...............................           4
Committee on Government Reform and Oversight Findings......           4
New Budget Authority and Tax Expenditures..................           4
Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate..................           4
Inflationary Impact Statement..............................           5
Section-by-Section Analysis and Discussion.................           5
Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported......           6

                          Purpose and Summary

    The ``Controlled Substances Trafficking Prohibition Act'' 
(H.R. 3633) addresses the problem of controlled substances 
purchased in 
Mexico being illegally diverted after being brought into the 
United States. It does so by amending the Controlled Substances 
Import and Export Act so as to limit the amount of controlled 
substances that an individual can bring across the Mexican 
border into the United States. The bill limits the ``personal 
use exemption'' in the Controlled Substances Import and Export 
Act with respect to any individual entering the United States 
through a land border with Mexico with a controlled substance, 
without a prescription written by a practitioner licensed under 
the authority of the Act (or documentation which verifies such 
a prescription).\1\ Under H.R. 3633, such an individual may not 
bring in more than 50 dosage units of such a controlled 
substance; or, in the case of an individual who does not 
lawfully reside in the United States, the quantity of 
controlled substances which may be imported is based on the 
approximate length of stay by that individual in the United 
States.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\ Under current law, the Attorney General has the authority to 
exempt from otherwise applicable law those who bring controlled 
substances (except a Schedule I substance) into the United States if 
such substance is for that individual's personal medical use, or for an 
animal accompanying him, if the substance was lawfully obtained.
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                Background and Need For the Legislation

    The scope and nature of the movement of illegal drugs from 
Mexico into the United States is dramatic, and has been the 
subject of considerable attention in recent years. It is 
estimated by U.S. law enforcement officials that between 60 and 
70 percent of all of the cocaine entering the United States 
each year transits Mexico. A growing, if less visible, aspect 
of the drug problem associated with the Mexican border involves 
individuals crossing the border into Mexico to purchase 
pharmaceutical products, with those products then becoming a 
source of illegal drug diversion in the United States.
    One study has reported that 25 percent of the U.S. 
residents who enter Mexico as tourists purchase pharmaceutical 
products.\2\ Another study has reported that 32 percent of the 
U.S. residents living along the U.S. side of the border visited 
a Mexican pharmacy in the previous year.\3\ A 1992 study 
reported that 81 percent of the patients at an El Paso health 
clinic traveled to Juarez, Mexico, to purchase medications. 55 
percent of these people reported that they purchased 
medications in Mexico several times a year, with 69 percent 
indicating that they had purchased pharmaceutical products in 
Mexico within the last month.\4\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \2\ See E. Kristin McKeithan, and Marvin D. Shepherd, 
``Pharmaceutical Products Declared by U.S. Residents on Returning to 
the United States From Mexico,'' Clinical Therapeutics, Vol. 18, No. 6, 
1996.
    \3\ ibid.
    \4\ ibid.
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    The most common reason U.S. residents visit Mexico to 
acquire pharmaceutical products is the low prices of Mexican 
medications, which are controlled by Mexico's National Health 
Care System. The second major reason is the easy access. There 
are significant differences between the United States and 
Mexico in how drug products are regulated and distributed. Many 
of the products in the United States that require a 
prescription are available in Mexico as over- the-counter 
products. Furthermore, certain drugs which are not legally 
available in the United States, even with prescriptions, are 
legal in Mexico. One such drug is flunitrazepam (better known 
as the ``date rape drug''), a product involved in a growing and 
serious abuse problem in the United States. Moreover, in 
Mexico, prescriptions can be written by physicians, dentists, 
homeopathic physicians, veterinarians, health professionals in 
the social services, nurses, and midwives.
    Studies indicate that U.S. residents from many states, not 
just the border states, cross the Mexican border and return to 
the United States with a wide variety of drug products in large 
quantities. While many of these products are undoubtedly 
purchased and brought back into the United States for 
legitimate use, the types and quantities of products coming 
into the United States raises serious questions about possible 
illegal diversion. For example, one study found that nearly 1.5 
million tablets of flunitrazepam were declared and brought into 
the United States in one year through one gate at the Laredo, 
Texas, Customs border crossing.\5\ The study further reported 
that more than 42 percent of all those who declared drugs while 
coming through the Laredo, Texas, crossing, declared 
flunitrazepam. Moreover, the median age for those declaring 
flunitrazepam was 26. While the importation of flunitrazepam 
into the United States was banned in March, 1996, concerns 
remain that the drug continues to be obtained in Mexico and 
brought across the border without being declared.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \5\ ibid. The study was done in 1994-1995, at the Laredo Bridge 
One, which handles visitor travel by foot and automobile, but not 
commercial travel such as large trucks or tractor trailer vehicles.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Current U.S. Customs' requirements for bringing medications 
into the United States are that only a ``reasonable'' amount of 
medication can enter, and that it must be for personal use. 
Each U.S. port of entry defines ``reasonable'' amount 
differently. For example, the U.S. Customs port at Laredo 
defines a ``reasonable'' amount to be a 90-day supply. All 
medications must be properly identified, and the individual 
must have either a prescription or written statement from the 
physician stating that the medications are being used under a 
physician's care and are medically necessary.
    Although U.S. Customs may allow an individual to bring 
Mexican medications into the United States, the individual may 
still be in violation of State and federal law for prescription 
and controlled drugs. For example, in Texas, U.S. residents 
returning from Mexico with controlled substances are in 
violation of the Texas and federal controlled substances laws, 
because Mexican prescriptions for controlled substances are 
only valid in Texas if the prescriber is licensed in Texas and 
is registered with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. 
There are no physicians in Mexico who are registered with the 
DEA. Furthermore, the vast majority of the drug products from 
Mexico are inaccurately or inadequately labeled, and, as such, 
violate the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. Finally, all 
drug products from Mexico are in violation of federal law 
(unless they meet the personal use exemption) because, 
currently, no Mexican drug products are approved by the U.S. 
Food and Drug Administration. Thus, individuals carrying 
controlled substances from Mexico which do not comport with the 
personal use exemption are in possession of an illegal 
controlled substance.

                                Hearings

    The Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Crime held a 
hearing on the bill on March 26, 1998, at which three witnesses 
testified. They were: Congressman Steve Chabot, who represents 
Ohio's First District and is a member of the Subcommittee on 
Crime and who authored the legislation; Matt Meagher, Senior 
Investigative Reporter, Inside Edition; and Wesley S. Windle, 
Program Officer, Office of Field Operations, U.S. Customs 
Service.

                        Committee Consideration

    H.R. 3633 was reported favorably on a voice vote, without 
amendment, by the Subcommittee on Crime on May 7, 1998.
    On May 20, 1998, the Committee met in open session and 
ordered H.R. 3633 favorably reported, by voice vote, without 
amendment, a quorum being present.

                      Committee Oversight Findings

    In compliance with clause 2(l)(3)(A) of rule XI of the 
Rules of the House of Representatives, the Committee reports 
that the findings and recommendations of the Committee, based 
on oversight activities under clause 2(b)(1) of rule X of the 
Rules of the House of Representatives, are incorporated in the 
descriptive portions of this report.

         Committee on Government Reform and Oversight Findings

    No findings or recommendations of the Committee on 
Government Reform and Oversight were received as referred to in 
clause 2(l)(3)(D) of rule XI of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives.

               New Budget Authority and Tax Expenditures

    Clause 2(l)(3)(B) of House Rule XI is inapplicable because 
this legislation does not provide new budgetary authority or 
increased tax expenditures.

               CongressionaL Budget Office Cost Estimate

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                      Washington, DC, June 1, 1998.
Hon. Henry J. Hyde,
Chairman, Committee on the Judiciary,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 3633, the 
Controlled Substances Trafficking Prohibition Act.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contacts are Mark 
Grabowicz (for federal costs), who can be reached at 226-2860, 
and Leo Lex (for the state and local impact), who can be 
reached at 225-3220.
            Sincerely,

                                           June E. O'Neill, Director.  
    Enclosure.

    cc: Hon. John Conyers, Jr.,
         Ranking Minority Member.
H.R. 3633--Controlled Substances Trafficking Prohibition Act
    H.R. 3633 would tighten the current restrictions on 
individuals bringing certain controlled substances, mainly 
those for personal medical use, into the United States through 
a land border with Mexico. The bill would continue to permit 
individuals to bring certain drugs across the border, but 
generally only in amounts of less than 50 dosage units. Based 
on information from the U.S. Customs Service, CBO estimates 
that enacting H.R. 3633 would result in no significant costs to 
the federal government because it would not significantly 
affect the workload of the Customs Service. The bill would not 
affect direct spending or receipts, so pay-as-you-go procedures 
would not apply.
    H.R. 3633 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and 
would have no impact on the budgets of state, local, or tribal 
governments. The bill would allow states to impose additional 
requirements on individuals who bring controlled substances 
from Mexico without a prescription or similar documentation.
    The CBO staff contacts for this estimate are Mark Grabowicz 
(for federal costs), who can be reached at 226-2860, and Leo 
Lex (for the state and local impact), who can be reached at 
225-3220. This estimate was approved by Robert A. Sunshine, 
Deputy Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.

                     Inflationary Impact Statement

    Pursuant to clause 2(l)(4) of rule XI of the Rules of the 
House of Representatives, the Committee estimates that H.R. 
3633 will have no inflationary impact on prices and costs in 
the national economy.

                      Section-By-Section Analysis

Section 1. Short Title.
    This section provides the short title of the Act, which is 
the Controlled Substances Trafficking Prohibition Act.
Section 2. Limitation.
    This section amends section 1006(a) of the Controlled 
Substances Import and Export Act (Section 956(a) of title 21, 
United States Code).
    The Controlled Substances Import and Export Act provides 
generally that it is unlawful to import into the United States 
any controlled substance from schedule I or schedule II and any 
narcotic drugs in schedule III, IV, or V (section 952(a) of 
title 21). A number of exceptions are then delineated. One of 
the exceptions is established in section 956(a), which provides 
that the Attorney General may by regulation exempt any 
individual who has a controlled substance (except a substance 
in schedule I, pursuant to section 812 of title 21) in his 
possession for his personal medical use, or for an animal 
accompanying him, if he lawfully obtained such substance.
    Subsection 2(a) places limitations on the personal use 
exemption of section 956(a) by circumscribing the discretion of 
the Attorney General to exempt controlled substances that an 
individual can bring across the Mexican border into the United 
States. Specifically, subsection 2(a) limits the personal use 
exemption with respect to any individual entering the United 
States through a land border with Mexico with a controlled 
substance who does not have a prescription written by a 
practitioner licensed under the authority of the Controlled 
Substances Import and Export Act (or documentation which 
verifies such a prescription). Subsection 2(a) provides that 
such an individual may not bring in more than 50 dosage units 
(as defined by the Attorney General in regulation) of such a 
controlled substance; or, in the case of an individual who does 
not lawfully reside in the United States, may not bring in more 
than a quantity which is consistent with the approximate length 
of stay by that individual in the United States (as determined 
by a United States Customs official at the border).
    The Committee recognizes that the effect of this subsection 
is to alter legislatively the personal use exemption, which 
could be altered by the Attorney General by regulation. It can 
reasonably be argued that the dynamic and complex nature of 
border transit of pharmaceutical products would ideally be 
addressed through regulations, which might then be modified 
over time in response to changing problems. It is the view of 
the Committee that in the instant case it is appropriate to 
respond to this specific problem legislatively rather than 
waiting passively for some possible future regulatory 
adjustment for two principal reasons. First, such a regulatory 
adjustment has been acknowledged by federal law enforcement as 
being long overdue; yet, no such adjustment has been made. This 
delay highlights the oftentimes cumbersome and slow nature of 
actually accomplishing regulatory changes. Second, the evidence 
suggests a strong likelihood that the problem addressed by this 
bill is not going to end or even change appreciably in the 
foreseeable future. As such, the problem is ripe for a longer-
term legislative solution.
    Subsection 2(b) clarifies that the limitations established 
in section 2(a) are only the minimum requirements established 
under federal law and, as such, do not preclude States from 
establishing more stringent importation limitations.
    Subsection 2(c) clarifies that subsection 2(a) is not to be 
construed to affect in any way the jurisdiction of the 
Secretary of Health and Human Services under the Federal Food, 
Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

H.L.C.

         Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported

    In compliance with clause 3 of rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, changes in existing law made by 
the bill, as reported, are shown as follows (existing law 
proposed to be omitted is enclosed in black brackets, new 
matter is printed in italics, existing law in which no change 
is proposed is shown in roman):

    SECTION 1006 OF THE CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES IMPORT AND EXPORT ACT

                          exemption authority

    Sec. 1006. (a) [The Attorney General] (1) Except as 
provided in paragraph (2), the Attorney General may by 
regulation exempt from sections 1002 (a) and (b), 1003, 1004, 
and 1005 any individual who has a controlled substance (except 
a substance in schedule I) in his possession for his personal 
medical use, or for administration to an animal accompanying 
him, if the lawfully obtained such substance and he makes such 
declaration (or gives such other notification) as the Attorney 
General may by regulation require.
    (2) Any individual who enters the United States through a 
land border with Mexico with a controlled substance (except a 
substance in schedule I) for which such individual does not 
possess a prescription written by a practitioner licensed under 
the authority of this Act or documentation which verifies such 
a prescription and who meets the requirements of paragraph (1) 
may bring a controlled substance (except a substance in 
schedule I) into the United States but only in an amount--
            (A) which is not more than 50 dosage units (as 
        defined by the Attorney General in regulation) of the 
        controlled substances; or
            (B) which, in the case of an individual who does 
        not lawfully reside in the United States, is consistent 
        with the approximate length of the individual's stay in 
        the United States as determined by a United States 
        Customs official at the United States border.

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