Mr. Burns Goes To California
Nearly six years ago, Deputy Drug Czar Scott Burns mailed a two-page letter to every prosecutor in America urging them to target and “aggressively prosecute” marijuana violators, including first-time offenders.
At that time, I spent some 5,000 words addressing Mr. Burns numerous lies and exaggerations — which included this shocking statement, “No drug matches the threat posed by marijuana.”
Yes folks, in 2002 that was the official position of your federal government.
Fast forward to today and you’ll see that little, if anything, has changed among the Czars who cohabit the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.
Earlier this month Scott Burns flew to Humbolt County in northern California where he gave this revealing (as in, it reveals just how clueless this man really is) interview with the editors of the Arcata Eye, explaining why the White House continues to believe that pot remains the most dangerous herb on the planet. However, rather than bleed my fingertips to the bone responding to Mr. Burns’ inherent inability to tell the truth, this time around I’m simply going to let his words speak for themselves.
Eye: Is it realistic to keep marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, in with cocaine and heroin?
Burns: Yes it is, and I’ll tell you why. … You can’t talk to a counselor in this country, Republican or a Democrat or an independent or a Marxist, and they will tell you, political beliefs aside, everyone that is addicted to drugs in this United States, started with either alcohol and/or marijuana, and they started when they were 13, 12 or 11. That doesn’t mean everyone that used those substances goes on to be a heroin addict, but you don’t have to have an IQ over 120 to figure out that if you can keep young people off marijuana, you can keep them from being addicted for life.
The last thing I’ll say is, we were talking about Nora Volkov, the head of NIDA, National Institute of Drug Abuse, who before said there is no correlation between smoking pot and rewiring and damaging the developing brain of young people, who now will tell you unequivocally that there is. Because of the higher potency, it is the same as cocaine and methamphetamine and heroin. They see it from the MRIs, the PET scans. They also are seeing psychosis and other mental problems from young people smoking this higher potency, which frankly should be called marijuana 2.0, drug. So yeah, it should remain a schedule 1.
Eye: … Is there enough research to indicate that [marijuana] has no medical efficacy? I can bring you chemotherapy patients who would tell you that it is the only thing that suppresses their nausea and gives them an appetite. So is there nothing to what they’re saying and feeling?
Burns: … Anybody can say something makes me feel better anecdotally. And I hear that a lot. “Marijuana is the only thing that makes me feel good.” I say you should try crack, because from what I hear, crack cocaine will make you feel really good as well.
This is not about making people feel better, it’s about as a country and the effects it will have on all of us, all 305 million of us. Because someone tells me that “smoking crack cocaine releases my nausea and allows me to have healthier appetite,” does that mean that we legalize it nationwide, and that its available to kids in a greater number? We have to make those kind of policy decisions. And we ought not make them on people who say, “Me personally, it makes me feel better.” … Yeah, the whole thing is a con. If you wanna call it what it is, it’s a joke.
Eye: … I could tell you without question that there are innumerable, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions of people who smoke marijuana on a regular basis, are fully functioning contributing citizens. Other than the fact that they do something that the government tells them is illegal. They’re contributing, they’re motivated, they obey the law, they vote, they pay taxes, they have children and they smoke marijuana. What about that? Doesn’t the federal government’s prohibition of this drug simply put a lot of profit in it for criminals, breed criminal enterprises and also breed disrespect for the authority of government?
Burns: … Whether or not they are functioning or not, there are others that say, they sit on the couch and eat Cheetos, and I’ve talked to hundreds of moms and dads that have said I wish you could do something, because my son has done nothing in 25 years but sit around and smoke dope. So for every person you have that you say is a taxpaying successful person, I could give you, I think five, of a mom and a dad or a loved one say, “My god, this addiction to this drug is a horrible thing.”
Eye: … [T]he whole premise of America’s freedom and self determination. How can we reconcile that with the government telling us what we can ingest and what we can’t?
Burns: … [O]n many issues … I think most Americans would agree that it should be that way. But on some issues that affect all of us for the good of the order we have to come to some consensus. And not everybody’s happy, are they? And every time we don’t get to do what we want, I know there are states where they really really like to marry young girls, 12, 11, or 10 and they would argue to you, “How dare the federal government preclude us from engaging in certain activities?” Well, in some instances we just say your, quote, “constitutional rights” and your freedom to do certain things gets trumped by the rest of us who say, “You know that’s just not a good idea.”
Those of you who wish to try and stomach the entire interview — I recommend having a strong anti-emetic nearby — are welcome to click here.
And if you’re looking for even more information on Mr. Burns visit to Arcata, NORML podcaster Russ Belville has a two-part interview with Eye editor and publisher Kevin Hoover on the NORML Daily Audio Stash here.
July 29, 2008