John Walters

  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director August 7, 2013

    Washington, DC: I jumped into a cab Monday afternoon at the airport at the top of the hour, when the all-news radio station led with an almost hysterical-in-tone news flash of the Washington Post being sold to Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. While most of established Washington and media circles rightly buzz about this cataclysmic change in ownership…my mind has raced for nearly 48 hours thinking back to the PROFOUND influence the Washington Post has had in in maintaining cannabis prohibition—acting at times barely more than a government organ; a ‘rip-n-read’ anti-pot propaganda machine.

    Call it professional pique, intellectual disgust or adopted hometown embarrassment after twenty-three years of reading Washington, DC’s ‘paper of record’ and the nation’s “premiere” political digests in regards to most everything having to do with cannabis:

    Activism (one time the Washington Post compared 10,000 cannabis activists gathered in DC to protest prohibition laws to UFO enthusiasts…instead of listening to concerned citizens about a failed government policy like cannabis prohibition, the ‘activists’ The Post has largely focused on are faux activists that work for government agencies or their chosen grant recipients; CADCA, CASA, PDFA, PRIDE (which is now NFIA) and DARE*)

    Science (The Post has almost exclusively relied upon federal anti-drug agencies like NIDA, SAMHSA and IOM for its cannabis-related information, who’re as bias against cannabis as NORML is for the herb)

    Culture (movies, TV shows, songs, books, magazines, musical and comedic acts who dabbled in cannabis-related theming were generally panned and mocked as being culturally irrelevant)

    Politics (pre-Marcus Brauchli, The Post’s editor from 2008-2012, the paper’s coverage of local, state, federal and international was decidedly statist and prohibitionist)

    Economics (despite near ubiquity of opinion within economic circles that cannabis prohibition is an economic failure, The Post historically cast economists who identify such obvious failings as ‘libertarian’, as if this were a pejorative)

    Race (skewed through the prism of upper-middle class African American editors and columnists from early 1980s until more recent years with their retirements, many of whom reached national prominence [Carl Rowan, Bill Raspberry and Colby King immediately come to mind], The Post cast cannabis as the precursor to most all things bad in the DC black community from heroin use in the 1970s, to cocaine in the 80s, to crack in the early 90s, to ecstasy in the late 90s….to gun violence, gang banging, teen pregnancy, underperforming schools, rap music, high rates of arrest and incarceration and broken families. So wanton to cast this narrative, The Post first won and then had to give back a Pulitzer prize for a writer making up a drug-addicted young boy in a totally fabricated narrative)

    Opinion-making (from about 1977-2008 the Washington Post’s editorial board and the widely read ‘commentary’ section was mainstream media central’s feeding trough for some of the most institutionalized Reefer Madness imaginable. A steady diet of mindless, fact-challenged and intellectually dishonest op-eds could be counted on bi-weekly from wild-eyed anti-cannabis professionals like Joseph Califano, William Bennett, John Walters, Peter Bensinger, Robert DuPont and whoever the ‘drug czar’ du jour. Conversely, one of the most prolific and syndicated columnists of the last forty years, William F. Buckley, The Post rarely ran any one of the dozens of pro-cannabis law reform columns he penned, often critical of the men mentioned above for their words and deeds vis-à-vis their continued support for cannabis prohibition, but for no sane, logical reasons or well reasoned reasons. In the early 1990s NORML director Richard Cowan contacted then managing editor Robert Kaiser, a classmate of his from Yale, imploring the two men to meet and discuss The Post’s news and editorial coverage of cannabis. Mr. Kaiser, while responsive to the letters, was not at all inclined to meet with a group like NORML and didn’t think anything wrong with The Post’s coverage and choice of ‘experts’ to broadcast to the reading audience…)

    *Conduit of government (…to Mr. Kaiser’s insistence to Mr. Cowan that The Post was objective re cannabis, it was not long after that I came to understand how bias The Post, under the Graham family, was to cannabis when they employed a respected essayist who leans libertarian in his writings named James Bovard to write a profile in 1994 on what was then the controversial DARE program, and more specifically on children who were encouraged and even taught by visiting DARE officers on how to turn their parents in for cannabis and other drug use. Many of these DARE cases were first vetted through NORML and forwarded to national and state media outlets, so Mr. Bovard had plenty of material fodder to cull through for his Post piece.

    Apparently troubled by the tone and light cast on the DARE program in Mr. Bovard’s well written and compelling guest column, Post editors and lawyers intervened three days before publication without informing Bovard, sent the story to DARE lawyers to review, the column was then substantively edited and items added by Post editors that were not from Bovard’s original reportage, amazingly, some of the information was libelous in the minds of a family in Georgia mentioned, who filed a lawsuit against The Post.

    I called the Washington Post and spoke to the legal counsel about the Post’s actions, and she informed me when I inquired with her whether or not from that point forward as a daily Washington Post reader should I believe that the words written by a columnist/guest writer are in fact their own, her reply was, in effect, ‘they might write them, but we print them, so, the answer to your question is “no”’. Believing her, from that point forward, I have never read The Post fully confident at all that I’m reading the writers’ work more than the viewpoints of the editors and owners.

    Indeed, on the rare occasion, probably to lend to the appearance of being balanced, The Post would publish a pro-reform essay from Drug Policy Alliance’s Ethan Nadelmann, Harvard’s Lester Grinspoon or ACLU’s Ira Glasser; or their less read ‘Foreign’ section would occasionally publish a field report from a Post reporter about what they were witnessing in Amsterdam, for example.)

    The big question:Does having an all-controlling family who largely hire statist editors and lawyers, with a former District of Columbia police officer in the ownership ranks, running the national capital’s major newspaper ceding the sale of the property to an apparently libertarian-leaning west coast, high tech billionaire located in a pro-cannabis city, in a state where the citizens have propelled the state to the vanguard of ending cannabis prohibition by voting last year to legalize the possession and sale of cannabis for adults have a MAJOR impact on the future and rapidity of cannabis law reforms in America—but maybe most importantly on Washington, D.C. and the federal government that created cannabis prohibition in 1937, has maintained it viciously and without remorse, ultimately the entity that can best end this nearly seventy-five year public policy, free market debacle?

    The big answer: I dunno.

    But, wow, I sure hope so.

    Really, think about it. Amazon is the most innovative and largest retailer in the world. When cannabis prohibition ends, and technology securely and safely delivers adult commerce directly to the consumer, what other company (and their much smaller product providers) better stands to benefit from the billions of dollars annually from cannabis moving from being illegal to legal commerce? Who? Costco?? Starbucks? Hmmm…they’re also Washington State-based companies.

    Of the many hundreds of thousands of items in NORML’s large archives about the history of cannabis prohibition, the day the Washington Post was sold from the Graham family to Jeffrey Bezos may indicate major epoch change in America’s intellectual and business society from one of enthusiastically embracing cannabis prohibition to possibly challenging its continued existence to profiting from the needed change in policy.

    Talk about doing well at the same time as good! Something tells me that one day I’ll look forward to morning read of my Bezos-owned Washington Post–questioning failed government policies rather than being a lapdog for them–and probably enjoying some home-delivered Amazon cannabis too.


  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director October 12, 2010

    A report released today by the RAND Drug Policy Research Center undercuts the longstanding federal government claim that Mexican drug gangs are reaping the bulk of their profits from the exportation of marijuana to the United States.

    States RAND, “The claim that 60 percent of Mexican drug trafficking organizations gross drug export revenues comes from marijuana is not credible.”

    And just who was the source of this ‘not credible’ statistic? In this case, full credit must go to the nation’s top anti-drug office, the Office of National Drug Control Policy — aka the Drug Czar’s office.

    Marijuana big earner for Mexico gangs
    via The Associated Press

    Posted 2/21/2008 8:55 PM |

    MEXICO CITY — Marijuana is now the biggest source of income for Mexico’s drug cartels and the U.S. is committed to cracking down harder on traffickers, U.S. drug czar John Walters said Thursday.

    “We’re trying to increase the force with which we’re attacking this problem,” Walters said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. “This is a focus because of the overlooked importance marijuana has in the violence.”

    Walters made the comments following a meeting with Mexican officials who want the U.S. to prosecute marijuana cases more zealously to reduce the amount of cash gangs can spend on guns.

    … Walters said the U.S. government is seeking additional resources to prosecute traffickers of marijuana, which now earns cartels about $8.5 billion or about 61 percent of their annual estimated income of $13.8 billion. Cocaine sales earn the cartels about $3.9 billion, and methamphetamine about $1 billion, he said.

    Today RAND retorts, “Mexican DTOs’ annual gross revenues from illegally exporting marijuana and selling it to wholesalers in the United States are likely less than $2 billion.”

    So who should we believe? On the one hand we have the federal government, which consistently lies about marijuana to further their own agenda. On the other hand, we have RAND, which also isn’t above making its own specious claims to further their own agenda — which in this case seems to be opposing California’s Prop. 19.

    Ultimately, however, the dueling statistics don’t really matter. Regardless of whether Mexican cartels are reaping 60 percent of their profits from pot or 16 percent, the fundamental principle remains the same: the criminal prohibition of marijuana fuels an underground, unregulated, black market economy that empowers criminal entrepreneurs and jeopardizes the public’s — and the marijuana consumer’s — safety.

    If you want to bring control of this market over to regulators, lawmakers, and licensed business, then you support legalization. If you wish to continue to abdicate control of this market to criminal gangs and drug traffickers, then you support prohibition.

    The choice is up to you.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director April 29, 2010

    Just in case this recent CNN headline — “Government: More than 22,000 dead in Mexico drug war” — didn’t make this point crystal clear, we now have a scientific study published by the good folks at International Centre for Science in Drug Policy to drive home the painfully obvious.

    Study links drug enforcement to more violence
    via The Associated Press

    The surge of gunbattles, beheadings and kidnappings that has accompanied Mexico’s war on drug cartels is an entirely predictable escalation in violence based on decades of scientific literature, a new study contends.

    A systematic review published Tuesday of more than 300 international studies dating back 20 years found that when police crack down on drug users and dealers, the result is almost always an increase in violence, say researchers at the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy, a nonprofit group based in Britain and Canada.

    In 87 percent of the studies reviewed, intensifying drug law enforcement resulted in increased rates of drug market violence. Some of the studies included in the report said violence increases because power vacuums are created when police kill or arrest top drug traffickers. None showed a significant decrease in violence.

    Predictably, Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske — like all prohibitionists — would rather stick his head in the sand than acknowledge the obvious.

    When asked whether he believes that legalizing and regulating marijuana — the crop that, according to his own office, provides Mexican drug lords with over 60% of their present profits — would in any way stave this ongoing violence, he responded: “I don’t know of any reason that legalizing something that essentially is bad for you would make it better, from a fiscal standpoint or a public health standpoint or a public safety standpoint.”

    Really? So does the Drug Czar favor outlawing alcohol, tobacco, red meat, trans-fats, soda, corn syrup, junk food, caffeine, sugar, and any one of thousands of other products and activities that are “essentially bad for you” too?

    And what about those 20,000+ dead since 2006 — many as a direct result of the United State’s prohibitionists policies? The Drug Czar doesn’t believe that staving such violence isn’t benefiting the public’s health? (Answer: You can’t make someone understand when it is in their job description not to.)

    Sickeningly, ex-Drug Czar John Walters does Gil K. even one better — reiterating the notion (previously expressed by pending DEA head Michelle Leonheart) that the soaring violence and death south of the border is a sign that U.S. marijuana prohibition is working!

    According to the AP: “The former drug czar, John Walters, said the researchers gravely misinterpret drug violence. He said spikes of attacks and killings after law enforcement crackdowns are almost entirely between criminals, and therefore may, in a horrible, paradoxical way, reflect success. ‘They’re shooting each other, and the reason they’re doing that is because they’re getting weaker,’ he said.”

    Yes, you read that right. In John Walters’ deluded mind, murder victims Lesley Enriquez, — who worked at the U.S. Consulate and was four months pregnant — and her husband must have been ‘criminals,’ and the rising death toll on the U.S./Mexico border is obviously a human billboard of our success!

    It’s now apparent that only a fool — or someone who is paid to act like one — would fail to see that it is time to remove the production and distribution of marijuana out of the hands of violent criminal enterprises and into the hands of licensed businesses. Of course, the only way to do that is through legalization — yet this is a policy that, tragically, remains devoid from the Drug Czar’s, and the President’s, vocabulary.

  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director April 3, 2010

    Again, next time you hear or read about law enforcement or federal anti-drug agencies employing the claim ‘We don’t make the laws, we only enforce them’, please reference the below totally biased, paranoid, inaccurate and self-serving example from the Drug Enforcement Administration to counter such claims.

    Unlike the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), it is not clear that Drug Enforcement Administration is mandated by Congress to oppose any efforts by citizens to peaceably and lawfully change cannabis laws.

    While each and every one of the DEA’s supposed top ten ‘facts’ about legalization are easily rebutted, I think my favorite ‘fact’ presented by our tax dollars at DEA is #6, where the DEA purposely misleads the general public by claiming that Alaska ‘legalized’ cannabis in the 1970s, and upset voters in 1990 effectively saved the state from the dreaded ‘Devil’s Weed’.

    What really happened in Alaska regarding cannabis policy?

    The Alaska Supreme Court, relying on the most citizen-supportive state constitution in the United States, ruled in the Ravin case in 1975 that the state constitution afforded its citizens strong privacy rights, including the ability to possess one ounce of without fear of arrest. In other words, just like numerous other states (thirteen!) Alaska DECRIMINALIZED the possession of cannabis, it never legalized the substance in the standard sense of the word where adults could cultivate and sell it.

    Since the tragic and expensive folly of cannabis prohibition began in 1937 by a legislative fiat in the Congress and signed into law by President Franklin Roosevelt (who was a keen supporter of ending alcohol prohibition, signed the Volstead Act and celebrated the end of alcohol prohibition at the White House with some of the first legal booze), not a lawful constitutional amendment such as was needed to both prohibit and re-legalize alcohol sales. Unfortunately, no state has EVER legalized cannabis cultivation or sales for non-medicinal purposes. None! The DEA is wrong to insinuate otherwise.

    What happened in 1990 to Alaska’s cannabis decriminalization laws? Did mobs of angry voters, fed up with excessive cannabis use (or even above national average cannabis consumption rates) driven by an otherwise, for the average person, largely obscure 1975 court decision be compelled to place a voter initiative on the ballot to, according to our not so dutiful civil employees at the DEA, de-legalize cannabis in the state?

    About the only item correct in the DEA’s #6 ‘fact’ about legalization is that the voters narrowly voted to end the state’s decriminalized laws for possessing one ounce. That, by the way, was largely a function of not the grassroots efforts of Alaskans, but of our first official ‘drug czar’ William Bennett (and his ‘Mini-Me’ and future Propagandist-in-Chief against cannabis as the longest serving drug czar, John Walters).

    Bill Bennett, freshly minted as drug czar chose as one of the office’s first missions, consistent with its Joe Biden-written and Congressionally-approved charter to oppose cannabis law reforms as a matter of policy and function (science, morality, and economics be damned!), they chose to target what they perceived the lowest hanging fruit possible to capture: Go to the state with the most tolerant cannabis laws—Alaska was chosen—using numerous federal apparatus and tax dollars, whip up fear and emotional contagion in the population broadcasting rank anti-cannabis propaganda—notably with law enforcement, women, parents, church groups, oil companies and the US military/National Guard—and knock the supposedly ‘liberal’ cannabis law off the law books in hopes of starting a legislative and/or voter initiative backlash against cannabis in then 11 states that had already decriminalized the possession of (usually) one ounce.

    The peak of the Bennett-driven effort to change cannabis laws in Alaska as I recall was a frenetic, mainly one-sided show featuring Bill Bennett at peak bluster debating a counter-culture writer on the then very popular daytime Phil Donahue Show (notably known for its high ratings among women viewers).

    What actually has turned out in Alaska since 1990 that the DEA didn’t want the public to know in its so-called ‘fact’ sheet and misleads by omission in trying to portray Alaska as a state whose citizens ‘de-legalized’ cannabis and don’t favor its reform?


    1) Post the vote in 1990, NORML supporters in Alaska who favor cannabis law reform, along with ACLU, successfully sued to have the voter initiative overturned as it violated the state’s constitution.

    The Alaska Supreme court ruled Ravin was still the law of the land because the personal privacy protected under the state’s constitution could not be voted away in an initiative. The justices ruled that if the minor possession of cannabis were to be made illegal consistent with the state constitution (and their previous rulings), then Alaskan’s elected policymakers and citizens need to amend the state constitution.

    In later court challenges in Alaska to enhance penalties, pushed by the Governor, the state courts not only ruled against the government, they increased the amount of cannabis a citizen could possess up to a quarter pound (four ounces)!

    Regrettably, the most recent court decision in Alaska has reduced the amount from a ‘QP’ back to an ‘OZ’.

    Ooops! Sorry Billy and Johnny (and the DEA), Alaska’s liberty-loving state constitution trumped your efforts. You lost, but oddly still cite Alaska to this day as some kind of warped ‘victory’. If it was a victory, even in the strictest sense of the word, it is the definition of a Pyrrhic victory.

    2) The citizens of Alaska voted for medical access to cannabis in 1998, 58% – 42%. The law has had little to no negative consequences in the state from a public health or safety point of view. Medical cannabis, like in most states that adopt it, is ‘no big’ deal despite the DEA’s efforts to convince lawmakers, media and the public.

    3) In 2004, a ballot initiative to actually legalize cannabis in Alaska largely funded by the Marijuana Policy Project lost 55% – 44%.

    See Alaska’s current laws here.

    This fall, with the voters of California having the opportunity in a binding voter initiative to actually become the first state to legalize cannabis (Field Poll surveys in the state indicate 56% support legalization), let’s show the anti-cannabis bureaucrats at the DEA and ONDCP (just to name two of over two dozen taxpayer-wasting federal government bureaucracies that largely oppose cannabis law reforms) a thing or two about what their employers—we the taxpayers and voters—want regarding a functional cannabis policy where the herb is legally controlled and taxed for responsible adult enjoyment and relaxation just like caffeine, alcohol and tobacco products.

    To send a clear message to the DEA, please support Tax Cannabis 2010 in California!

    Summary of the DEA’s Top Ten Facts on Legalization

    Fact 1: We have made significant progress in fighting drug use and drug trafficking in America. Now is not the time to abandon our efforts.

    The Legalization Lobby claims that the fight against drugs cannot be won. However, overall drug use is down by more than a third in the last twenty years, while cocaine use has dropped by an astounding 70 percent. Ninety-five percent of Americans do not use drugs. This is success by any standards.

    Fact 2: A balanced approach of prevention, enforcement, and treatment is the key in the fight against drugs.

    A successful drug policy must apply a balanced approach of prevention, enforcement and treatment. All three aspects are crucial. For those who end up hooked on drugs, there are innovative programs, like Drug Treatment Courts, that offer non-violent users the option of seeking treatment. Drug Treatment Courts provide court supervision, unlike voluntary treatment centers.

    Fact 3: Illegal drugs are illegal because they are harmful.

    There is a growing misconception that some illegal drugs can be taken safely. For example, savvy drug dealers have learned how to market drugs like Ecstasy to youth. Some in the Legalization Lobby even claim such drugs have medical value, despite the lack of conclusive scientific evidence.

    Fact 4: Smoked marijuana is not scientifically approved medicine. Marinol, the legal version of medical marijuana, is approved by science.

    According to the Institute of Medicine, there is no future in smoked marijuana as medicine. However, the prescription drug Marinol-a legal and safe version of medical marijuana which isolates the active ingredient of THC-has been studied and approved by the Food & Drug Administration as safe medicine. The difference is that you have to get a prescription for Marinol from a licensed physician. You can’t buy it on a street corner, and you don’t smoke it.

    Fact 5: Drug control spending is a minor portion of the U.S. budget. Compared to the social costs of drug abuse and addiction, government spending on drug control is minimal.

    The Legalization Lobby claims that the United States has wasted billions of dollars in its anti-drug efforts. But for those kids saved from drug addiction, this is hardly wasted dollars. Moreover, our fight against drug abuse and addiction is an ongoing struggle that should be treated like any other social problem. Would we give up on education or poverty simply because we haven’t eliminated all problems? Compared to the social costs of drug abuse and addiction-whether in taxpayer dollars or in pain and suffering-government spending on drug control is minimal.

    Fact 6: Legalization of drugs will lead to increased use and increased levels of addiction. Legalization has been tried before, and failed miserably.

    Legalization has been tried before-and failed miserably. Alaska’s experiment with Legalization in the 1970s led to the state’s teens using marijuana at more than twice the rate of other youths nationally. This led Alaska’s residents to vote to re-criminalize marijuana in 1990.

    Fact 7: Crime, violence, and drug use go hand-in-hand.

    Crime, violence and drug use go hand in hand. Six times as many homicides are committed by people under the influence of drugs, as by those who are looking for money to buy drugs. Most drug crimes aren’t committed by people trying to pay for drugs; they’re committed by people on drugs.

    Fact 8: Alcohol has caused significant health, social, and crime problems in this country, and legalized drugs would only make the situation worse.

    The Legalization Lobby claims drugs are no more dangerous than alcohol. But drunk driving is one of the primary killers of Americans. Do we want our bus drivers, nurses, and airline pilots to be able to take drugs one evening, and operate freely at work the next day? Do we want to add to the destruction by making drugged driving another primary killer?

    Fact 9: Europe’s more liberal drug policies are not the right model for America.

    The Legalization Lobby claims that the “European Model” of the drug problem is successful. However, since legalization of marijuana in Holland, heroin addiction levels have tripled. And Needle Park seems like a poor model for America.

    Fact 10: Most non-violent drug users get treatment, not jail time.

    The Legalization Lobby claims that America’s prisons are filling up with users. Truth is, only about 5 percent of inmates in federal prison are there because of simple possession. Most drug criminals are in jail-even on possession charges-because they have plea-bargained down from major trafficking offenses or more violent drug crimes.

  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director March 27, 2010

    Someone should clue in neo-con John Walters (who Drug Policy Alliance director Ethan Nadelmann aptly described once as Bill Bennett’s ‘Mini-Me’) that he no longer is compelled by statute to lie about cannabis any more seeking to thwart the will of American citizens. Blessedly, taxpayers are no longer paying him high wages to lie to beat the band. But, apparently the ‘Weakly Standard’ and Hudson Institute are willing to pay up for Walter’s anti-pot prevarications.

    Walters—a political operative who revolves in and out of government jobs when Republicans control the executive branch—in a gratuitously written essay attempts to both praise the Democratic president while condemning him at the exact same time. A difficult feat to achieve, and Walters only disappoints with petty partisanship and self-promotion.

    Obama Just Says No to Soros

    From the March 22, 2010 Weekly Standard

    by John Walters

    For anyone who feared that the Obama administration would abandon efforts to control illegal drugs, the president’s first year in office has been on balance reassuring.

    The anti-antidrug camp had high hopes that Barack Obama would end “drug prohibition.” Last year, George Soros, a leading proponent of drug legalization and perhaps the most generous financial backer of the president, seemed in a position to get the change he wanted. In fact, Obama drug czar Gil Kerlikowske made it his first order of business to tell the press he was ending “the drug war.” More significantly, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that federal enforcement regarding “medical marijuana” would be dialed back, which caused the number of storefront marijuana shops in Los Angeles to skyrocket.

    Things are looking a little different a year later, however. Kerlikowske turned old school and proclaimed that drug legalization was not in the administration’s “vocabulary.” The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) continues to enforce marijuana laws in California (although without vocal support from Holder). And the Obama administration just released its first drug control budget requesting a fully funded, well, drug war. At the end of the Bush administration, federal drug control spending in fiscal year 2009 was $15 billion—65 percent of it devoted to border security, law enforcement, and other supply control efforts. Obama wants $15.5 billion in 2011, 64 percent for supply control—an increase of $100 million over Bush’s final year.

    President Obama did not speak of the importance of drug treatment in his first State of the Union address as his predecessor had, but he requested a bit more money for it—all to the good. And he even tried to avoid adding these funds to the most unaccountable federal treatment programs.

    Last year, Congress and the administration cut prevention funding 17 percent, the only significant change from 2009. This year, the administration is seeking to restore some, but not all, of that cut.

    The drug-legalization zealots may be singing “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.” But with the exception of the Carter administration, when some senior members of the White House staff favored legalization, every president from Richard Nixon through Barack Obama—Republican and Democrat—has sought to attack both supply and demand. It was during the Carter administration that the drug problem exploded, leading to the worst destruction from substance abuse in living memory and the enduring root of the smaller problem still with us today.

    It is very important that President Obama has not listened to George Soros on drugs. Should we expect anything more? Are there any signs that the president cares about the drug problem? Will he actually show some leadership on this issue? If he wanted to, he could teach young people something. He could say that illegal drugs make people sick, and his generation did not understand this and paid a horrible price for its ignorance. Now we know better, and we should act like it. If he wanted to show real courage, he could say we know that marijuana makes people sick and that marijuana is the illegal drug causing the greatest dependency and addiction by far. He could even say it is time to stop several decades of lying to ourselves about marijuana and teaching that lie to our children.

    President Obama as no other president before him could use his appeal to youth to end, almost overnight, the cultural dogma that drugs are cool. It would be easy for him to become the greatest contributor to drug abuse prevention since Nancy Reagan—and he could explain how difficult it is to stop using these substances even when you know better, as he has found with cigarettes.

    Of course, none of this is likely to happen. The Obama administration has shown itself willing to spend to support antidrug programs, but it probably will not lead at home and abroad in the areas where truly historic gains are possible.

    President Alvaro Uribe in Colombia has all but taken his country back from drug trafficking terrorists. One result of Uribe’s victories is that dramatically less cocaine reaches American cities. Is that not important to President Obama? The Obama administration could draw attention to this magnificent example of turning the tide against drugs and terror and explain how it happened—a great drug war victory led by Colombia’s president and supported by both the Clinton and the Bush administrations. If similar efforts are led, adapted, and sustained in Mexico and Afghanistan, the damage caused by cocaine, heroin, and marijuana in the United States and globally can be dramatically reduced. The changes would be profound. Does President Obama see this? Thus far, there is no evidence he thinks about it at all.

    The president surely did not need Charles Lane of the Washington Post to tell him “medical marijuana is an insult to our intelligence.” But the president and all his key officials—Eric Holder, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration Margaret Hamburg, and even Gil Kerlikowske—are playing dumb as “medical marijuana” is brought to Washington, D.C. The agencies of the federal government know what a dangerous fraud this has been in California and particularly in its large cities—Los Angeles, Oakland, and San Francisco. It is beyond question that “medical marijuana” fosters rapid rises in abuse, addiction, and crime. The Post has reported this in detail. Does the capital of the United States need a bigger drug problem? Are all these Obama administration officials really too busy to make the obvious argument that “medical marijuana” is a stupid and dangerous fraud?

    We are fortunate that President Obama has resisted the wrongheaded advice of George Soros. But it is not enough. Today, leadership is needed on curbing use of marijuana, helping Mexico defeat the traffickers, and working to integrate the battle against terror and drugs in Afghanistan. On these issues the new boss is failing, and there are already troubling survey results indicating youth drug use may be about to rise. Attitudes about drugs are a product of teaching, not mere spending. The annual reports of historic rates of substance abuse among aging Baby Boomers should have taught us by now that exposing our children to these substances is not dangerous for them only as teens. All too often, substance abuse lasts a lifetime.

    Truth and history vs. Walters’ polemical

    >Kerlikowske turned old school and proclaimed that drug legalization was not in the administration’s “vocabulary.”

    Of course Walters fails to inform the reading audience that Kerlikowske has abandoned Walters’ overblown rhetoric by dropping the term ‘war on drugs’ from the fed’s vocabulary.

    Attorney General Eric Holder announced that federal enforcement regarding “medical marijuana” would be dialed back, which caused the number of storefront marijuana shops in Los Angeles to skyrocket.

    Is this true? Or, is it more accurate to admit that the massive increase in the retail outlets for cannabis for medical purposes happened under the Bush/Walters tenure, specifically between 2001-2008? Even with the executive branch winning two US Supreme Court decisions against medical cannabis in 2001 and 2005, Bush and Walters (along with fellow Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger) utterly failed to stop the massive proliferation and increased popularity of retail cannabis dispensaries in states like California and Colorado.

    It was during the Carter administration that the drug problem exploded, leading to the worst destruction from substance abuse in living memory and the enduring root of the smaller problem still with us today.

    Is this historically accurate or another pathetic partisan attack? Were there not massive increases in the use of heroin (under Nixon), cocaine (under Reagan), crack (under Bush 1.0), ecstacy (under Clinton) and meth (under Bush 2.0 and Walters)?

    He could say that illegal drugs make people sick, and his generation did not understand this and paid a horrible price for its ignorance. Now we know better, and we should act like it. If he wanted to show real courage, he could say we know that marijuana makes people sick and that marijuana is the illegal drug causing the greatest dependency and addiction by far.

    Apparently Walters looks to Obama to be as dishonest as he was in misleading and lying to the public and Congress about cannabis. Walters’ absurd and unscientific claims that cannabis ‘makes people sick’ and that cannabis ‘causes the greatest dependency and addiction by far’ in a country that sells and taxes alcohol, tobacco and pharmaceuticals demonstrates how out-of-touch this man really is and how manipulative Walters tries to be with the distracted ignorance of the general public (and elected policy makers).

    He could even say it is time to stop several decades of lying to ourselves about marijuana and teaching that lie to our children.

    Talk about self-delusional! Who exactly has been lying for decades about cannabis? Was it not Walters who wasted taxpayer dollars on rank propaganda like ‘Stoners in the Mist‘? Is Walters to have his reading audience believe that government (federal and state executive branches; Congress and state legislatures; the DEA, ONDCP, NIDA, FBI, NIH, etc…) has been lying for decades to the general public in favor of cannabis, and now, Obama has a chance to retard decades of pro-cannabis government propaganda? Does this make any sense to sane people?

    But the president and all his key officials—Eric Holder, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration Margaret Hamburg, and even Gil Kerlikowske—are playing dumb as “medical marijuana” is brought to Washington, D.C. The agencies of the federal government know what a dangerous fraud this has been in California and particularly in its large cities—Los Angeles, Oakland, and San Francisco.

    Once again, resistant to democracy and the will of the voters, Walters is vexed by the fact that voters–not politically-appointed technocrats like him–are determining their fates and public policies, and  childishly bemoaning  current federal officials for not acting in the same reckless, elitist and anti-democratic manner that Walters chose to look down his nose at the public. Obama and Kerlikowske will be as successful as Bush and Walters were at thwarting the public’s will for long overdue cannabis law reforms, which is to say, not at all.

    It is beyond question that “medical marijuana” fosters rapid rises in abuse, addiction, and crime. The Post has reported this in detail. Does the capital of the United States need a bigger drug problem? Are all these Obama administration officials really too busy to make the obvious argument that “medical marijuana” is a stupid and dangerous fraud?

    I think Walters meant to write ‘It is beyond question that prohibition laws fosters rapid rises in abuse, addiction, and crime.’

    Walter blissfully cites the Washington Post as some kind of paragon of clarity against medical cannabis, when in fact the Washington Post editorial board and its columnists over the years, like most of the country, has come to embrace medical cannabis research and law reform.

    Irony as rich as a Sara Lee poundcake

    In what really is little more than a nakedly partisan, Soros-paranoid attempt by Walters to chide Obama (and by extension the entire presidential field of Democrats in 2008 as all of them supported medical access to cannabis; contrastingly, Republican candidates other than Ron Paul did not) for 1) the audacity of agreeing with approximately 80% of the US public on the question of allowing physicians to recommend cannabis to sick, dying and sense-threatened medical patients, and 2) more importantly, for upholding a campaign promise to back the federal government off of state autonomy on the issue of medical cannabis.


    Obama, a real politician, can’t ignore 14 states (with 90 million citizens) who’ve provided legal protections for patients who use cannabis, whereas Walters, near a life-long political appointee who couldn’t get elected local dog catcher, and his duplicitous boss, for eight years, embraced a strange form of anti-democratic elitism as their way to ‘solve’ the failure of cannabis prohibition (President George W. Bush claimed as both governor of Texas and presidential candidate in 2000 that he, along with the rest of the GOP, strongly support states’ rights against a highly centralized, all-controlling federal government in big bad ol’ Washington, DC, but when the editorial board of the Portland Press Herald effectively asked candidate Bush ‘you claim you support states’ rights against encroaching federal supremacy, here in Maine voters elected to pass medical cannabis laws that run counter to federal laws. If elected president, what are you going to do regarding the increasing number of states that are rejecting federal anti-cannabis laws in favor of medicinal access for qualified patients?’ Bush’s reported reply: If elected president I’ll strongly encourage states’ rights, but will rigorously enforce existing federal laws.).

    Walter’s obscene boast in his bio at Hudson of reducing teen drug use 25% during his tenure is hard to comprehend and belies any credibility to speak publicly on the topic of cannabis prohibition, as he well knows that government drug surveys do not accurately measure drug use. Is it not ironic that when Walters is in government the monumentally unachievable is claimed, but when out of government, he is hypercritical of those in government for taking scientifically sound and politically popular decisions?

    Mirabile dictu

    Rather than salivate and snipe in such a partisan way at Democrats who’re responding to the will of the American people on medical cannabis, I suggest Walters and his fellow neo-cons at Hudson (like Lewis Libby, Robert Bork and Norman Podhoretz) should instead pay much more attention closer to home as his fellow conservatives are increasingly abandoning Nixon and Reagan-era policies intended to deter drug use.

    How much must it sting for Walters to read about the recent reversal in thinking and advocacy of John Dilulio about drug policy reform? It can’t feel too good when a respected co-author abandons and rejects, for all good and obvious reasons, long-claimed theories and advocacy, and Walters (and Bennett) is still clinging to bogus data, racist criminal justice enforcement and cultural elitism as their justification to continue a self-evidently failed public policy like cannabis prohibition.

    The former director of President George W. Bush’s White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, and the co-author with former Drug Czars Bill Bennett and John Walters of the book “Body Count: Moral Poverty…And How to Win America’s War Against Crime and Drugs” has just come out in favor of medical marijuana and serious consideration of marijuana decriminalization.

    [In a] 1993 book review for The New Republic, he implied that [drug users] were getting off too lightly. “It is not unreasonable to argue,” he wrote, “that the problem with the ‘get-tough’ approach of the last twenty-five years is that it hasn’t actually been followed. Despite mandatory sentencing laws, most drug offenders and other felons continue to spend only a fraction of their sentences behind bars.”

    In a recent article in Democracy his prescription for reducing crime addresses marijuana thusly…

    “… legalize marijuana for medically prescribed uses, and seriously consider decriminalizing it altogether. Last year there were more than 800,000 marijuana-related arrests. The impact of these arrests on crime rates was likely close to zero. There is almost no scientific evidence showing that pot is more harmful to its users’ health, more of a “gateway drug,” or more crime-causing in its effects than alcohol or other legal narcotic or mind-altering substances. Our post-2000 legal drug culture has untold millions of Americans, from the very young to the very old, consuming drugs in unprecedented and untested combinations and quantities. Prime-time commercial television is now a virtual medicine cabinet (”just ask your doctor if this drug is right for you”). Big pharmaceutical companies function as all-purpose drug pushers. And yet we expend scarce federal, state, and local law enforcement resources waging “war” against pot users. That is insane.”

    One has to wonder what Walters thinks when he witnesses dyed-in-the-blue conservatives like Wall Street Journal columnist Mary O’Grady speak out this week against the obvious, tax-draining, border-destabilizing and ineffective public policy of prohibiting so-called recreational drugs like cannabis?

    Revolving government door-types like Walters—who was paid over $1 million by taxpayers to, in the minds of many critics, twist scientific data and oppose democracy in his tenure as ‘drug czar’—should try to minimize their hypocrisy less they may reduce their value next time the political winds change and they, again, get to be a highly paid political apparatchik.

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