Drug Czar Busted — Again!

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director October 23, 2008

    Like the Energizer bunny, Drug Czar John Walters’ lies just keep on coming. It was only one-month ago when the Czar made a fool of himself on cable television — denying the fact the law enforcement arrest 800,000+ individuals on pot charges each year. (The FBI’s 2008 Uniform Crime Report, released just days after Walters’ absurd denial, showed that police made a record 872,721 marijuana arrests in 2007.)

    Walters further embarrassed himself by claiming that the likelihood of finding a marijuana smoker in prison or jail for pot possession is like finding a “unicorn” — a claim that is readily rebutted by the US Department of Justice’s own data, as well as by the startling number of former ‘unicorns’ who wrote to NORML here.

    You’d think that these two gaffes would fulfill the Czar’s ‘lie quota’ for one day, but Walters was just getting started.  At the same press conference, Walters further alleged (read: lied) that marijuana use has fallen dramatically under his watch when, in fact, according to the government’s own data — recently crunched by George Mason University senior fellow Jon Gettman and posted to The Hill.com by MPP’s Bruce Mirken — Americans’ overall pot use rates have remained stable since 2002.

    And then there’s this story, just released by ABC News.

    Study: Anti-Drug Ads Haven’t Worked
    Report Finds $1 Billion Campaign to Curb Teen Drug Use May Have Encouraged It

    via ABC News

    Despite investing $1 billion in a massive anti-drug campaign, a controversial new study suggests that the push has failed to help the United States win the war on drugs.

    A congressionally mandated study released today concluded that the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign launched in the late 1990s to encourage young people to stay away from drugs “is unlikely to have had favorable effects on youths.”

    In fact, the study’s authors assert that anti-drug ads may have unwittingly delivered the message that other kids were doing drugs, inadvertently slowing measured progress that was being made to curb marijuana use among teenagers.

    “Youths who saw the campaign ads took from them the message that their peers were using marijuana,” the report suggests as a possible reason for its findings. “In turn, those who came to believe that their peers were using marijuana were more likely to initiate use themselves.”

    … “Despite extensive funding, governmental agency support, the employment of professional advertising and public relations firms, and consultation with subject-matter experts, the evidence from the evaluation suggests that the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign had no favorable effects on youths’ behavior and that it may even have had an unintended and undesirable effect on drug cognitions and use,” the report said.

    In other words, teens who specifically said they had a lot of exposure to the campaign messages were no less likely to stay away from marijuana than those who did not.

    … The evaluation was conducted by the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication, after Congress called for the study. The study was based on four rounds of interviews conducted between 1999 and 2004, each involving about 5,000 to 8,000 youths between the ages of 9 and 18 years.

    Predictably, White House Office of National Drug Control Policy spokesman Tom Riley responded to the data by sticking his head in the sand. “This campaign has been a striking success,” he said — his nose growing significantly longer as he spoke.

    Riley also questioned why Annenberg’s findings only assessed the White House’s public service announcements through 2004. ABC News didn’t provide an answer, so I will.

    The reason Annenberg abruptly ceased evaluating the (in)effectiveness of the ONDCP’s failed media campaign in 2004 was because the National Institute on Drug Abuse — which by law was instructed to fund an independent, ongoing review of the ads — ceased paying the school’s evaluators to do so. NIDA pulled the plug on the evaluations after preliminary findings by Annenberg’s investigators found the Czar’s ad campaign to be among the least effective in the history of large-scale public communication campaigns. Somebody ought to tell John Walters, who apparently failed to get the memo.

    Of course, were the mainstream media to actually do its job, Walters’ bottomless pit of documented lies and delusional fabrications would be headline news, and the reigning Czar would be looking for a new line of work (dogcatcher perhaps). Unfortunately, lying about the war on (some) drugs has become so common and pervasive among police and politicians that the fact that America’s top drug cop is completely full of, ahem, crap isn’t only acceptable, it’s actually compulsory.

    35 responses to “Drug Czar Busted — Again!”

    1. Bruno says:

      This guy makes me sick.

      He fits right in at the White House.


    2. james harrison says:

      wow thats funny
      i always thought watchin those cartoons they showed us about drugs were funny
      and i liked the thought of smokin weed since i was like 9
      i diditn smoke till i was 11 though

      D.A.R.E didnt have any effect on me or lots of my peers from high school we all smoked

    3. Paul Hood says:

      It is important that we (cannabis truth tellers) in our debates and media comments start shaking our heads and saying things to Prohibitionists like “Do you really believe people are so ignorant to buy your load of crap” and “You are directly responsible for all the Drug War woes and our children having easy access to cannabis (and hard drugs) from drug dealers that don’t ask for ID”.

      WE NEED TO CALL THEM OUT AS “IN THE FAVOR OF THE DEVIL WHICH IS FOR DEATH AND DEVISION”. This is the TRUTH! Do they think the Devil is happier with all the carnage connected with the continuation of the “War on (some) Drugs” or the controlled (by government) distribution of such that would cause about the same carnage that taxed and regulated alcohol, tobacco and prescription drugs see. Which stance is less evil? Did we not learn anything from alcohol prohibition?

      Prohibitionists are the cause of mass killings in present Mexico initiated by the cartels and the deaths of police and innocent bystanders that get caught in the cross fire in the fight for drug sales territory. The deaths caused by Prohibitionists are not just in South America or other countries; they are running rampant in the USA as well.

      I don’t see how Prohibitionists can sleep at night… Actually I do know… it’s the money and feeling good about their self-righteous false belief that they are in control to some degree through violence and oppression … obviously a delusion of grandeur.

      Prohibitionist do not have control of drugs but they have giving up the control of drugs to the cartels that do not ask our children for ID and their success of selling hard drugs as a successful back door sale.

    4. Maybe now, while our once free nation is in the financial toilet somebody in Congress will have the cajones to speak up to the absurd waste of taxpayer’s money. Legalize marijuana and let us pay a fair tax! It is the right thing to do, it is the patriotic thing to do! (after all, it is patriotic to pay taxes)
      Not only that, legalization is the only way to control who gets to buy it and where. Eliminate the black market by legalizing it and take the element of crime out of pot!

    5. Kada says:

      I find it disturbing that they think people actually believe their lie tactics are actually working. If you mentioned the war on drugs to the average person walking down the street, most likely they would have negative things to say about it. People know it does more harm than good.
      When you talk to people about Cannabis laws, they roll their eyes even if they were not a smoker. People are not as stupid as the government thinks. We know that it is not a harmful drug, and they know we know that. For some reason they insist on continuing this reefer madness campaign started decades ago, even tho educated people have given evidence against their ridiculous lies.

      Every single commercial or ad they put out demonizing Cannabis is a giant joke. Everyone i know laughs at them, but the root of the messages are not funny at all. The only effect i have noticed about Cannabis laws, are that they effectively make people mistrustful of their own government. You should not be fearful when you see a police car, you should feel safe that a servant of the people is out there protecting us from actual criminals. I am a Cannabis smoker, and i am NOT a criminal. I am sick and tired of being slandered by my own government as a supporter of terrorism on national television. I am sick and tired of seeing people in power lie to America as a end to their own means. NO ONE IS BUYING IT.

    6. Steve says:

      If the czar is mandated to lie on national television, then we are mandated to tell the truth on national television.
      The only way the nightmare of prohibition will ever end is if we win over the hearts and minds of the American people.
      The majority of those who support prohibition do so only out of ignorance. The czar and his ilk enjoy total dominance of the mainstream airwaves; for as long as this continues, vast sections of the public will continue to believe their lies (and laws won’t change).
      Prohibition supporters are generally neither bad nor irrational, just totally naive on this subject and deliberately misinformed.
      Once properly educated and convinced of the facts, the majority will change their minds. Win the people and the politicians will follow suit.
      What is needed is an ad campaign of equal or greater scope and quality to that of the czar’s. We must beat them at their own game, or else forfeit entirely.
      With CNN now saying that 80% favor decriminalization, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that we already have the widespread support necessary to push public sentiment over the edge.
      These propaganda campaigns are the biggest obstacle to achieving a ‘critical mass’ of public opinion.
      The czar’s latest ads may not be working on kids, but are definitely working on their parents and grandparents, who vote and whose prohibitionist viewpoints are perpetually validated and reenforced.
      Many people (especially older people) still believe what they hear on TV; the TV is thus still the best way to get a point across.
      The czar’s office spent $1 billion on their latest campaign. If NORML had $1 billion to make an ad campaign of its own, I truly believe we could win this fight very quickly.
      Sounds like a lot of money, until you realize that at least five percent of the 300 million people in the US use cannabis regularly; that’s 15 million people.
      If all those people sent $67 to help fund the campaign, the outcome may very well change the world and at long last allow us to be free.
      How about it NORML? Can a fund be established to build a ‘war chest’ for this purpose?
      How about it anti-prohibition community? Are we willing to put a little money into reaching out to the wider world and making something actually happen?

    7. Hyphee says:

      From whitehouse.gov

      “Under Director Walters’ leadership, youth drug use has dropped to its lowest levels since the early 1990s. The latest Monitoring the Future Study, released in December, 2006, indicated that 840,000 fewer young people are using drugs today than in 2001—a 23 percent reduction. Teen marijuana use has dropped 25 percent, and teen methamphetamine, ecstasy, and LSD use have declined 50 percent or more over the past five years.”

      So I don’t get it… says here the drug use is going down…

    8. Rick says:

      His job is to lie. Why are we surprised when he does?

    9. jhm says:

      I think all of you misunderstand what the drug czar, as a part of this administration is trying to accomplish. His remit is to maximize federal outlays to GOP campaign supporters. By this measure, it is in no way the least effective, but quite effective indeed, thus his continuation at the post.

    10. herbalicious says:

      I know I’ve said this before but it deserves to be repeated until everyone in America knows this.

      “Most people know that the “drug czar” — the director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) — is an advocate for the government position regarding the drug war. But not everyone knows that he and his office are mandated to tell lies as part of their Congressional authorization.

      According to Title VII Office of National Drug Control Policy Reauthorization Act of 1998: H11225:

      Responsibilities. –The Director– […]

      (12) shall ensure that no Federal funds appropriated to the Office of National Drug Control Policy shall be expended for any study or contract relating to the legalization (for a medical use or any other use) of a substance listed in schedule I of section 202 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 812) and take such actions as necessary to oppose any attempt to legalize the use of a substance (in any form) that–

      1. is listed in schedule I of section 202 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 812); and
      2. has not been approved for use for medical purposes by the Food and Drug Administration;”

      Read the rest:

      Verify its legitimacy:
      (do a search on “(12)” and it will bring you to the exact portion of the text)