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  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director July 12, 2011

    The White House yesterday, with little fanfare, issued its annual (and long overdue) 2011 National Drug Control Strategy report.

    As usual, the White House’s official justification for the ongoing multigenerational drug war was light on facts and heavy on rhetoric, particularly as it pertained to the federal government’s fixation with criminalizing cannabis. Here are just a few examples (all of which are excerpted from a section of the report, entitled ironically enough, ‘The Facts About Marijuana‘) of your government on pot.

    [C]onfusing messages being conveyed by the entertainment industry, media, proponents of ‘medical’ marijuana, and political campaigns to legalize all marijuana use perpetuate the false notion that marijuana use is harmless and aim to establish commercial access to the drug. This significantly diminishes efforts to keep our young people drug free and hampers the struggle of those recovering from addiction.”

    Marijuana and other illicit drugs are addictive and unsafe. … The science, though still evolving in terms of long-term consequences, is clear: marijuana use is harmful. Independent from the so called ‘gateway effect’ — marijuana on its own is associated with addiction, respiratory and mental illness, poor motor performance, and cognitive impairment, among other negative effects.”

    “The Administration steadfastly opposes drug legalization. Legalization runs counter to a public health approach to drug control because it would increase the availability of drugs, reduce their price, undermine prevention activities, hinder recovery support efforts, and pose a significant health and safety risk to all Americans, especially our youth.”

    You get the idea.

    Of course, none of these allegations represent anything new for this (or previous) administrations, and NORML has responded in detail to most of the Drug Czar’s claims previously. I did, however, take notice of this particular paragraph in the report, which appears under the title ‘Medical’ Marijuana.’

    “In the United States, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has approved 109 researchers to perform bona fide research with marijuana, marijuana extracts, and marijuana derivatives such as cannabidiol and cannabinol. Studies include evaluation of abuse potential, physical/psychological effects, adverse effects, therapeutic potential, and detection. Fourteen researchers are approved to conduct research with smoked marijuana on human subjects.”

    Only in an environment of absolute criminal prohibition can the administration imply, with a straight face, that allowing a grand total of 14 legally permitted scientists to study a substance consumed by tens of millions of Americans for therapeutic and/or recreational purposes is somehow to be construed as ‘progress.’ That total doesn’t even legally allow for one scientist per medical marijuana state to actively assess how cannabis is impacting that state’s patient population.

    Moreover, this acknowledgment comes from the very same administration that on Friday flat out rejected the notion of even allowing hearings on the question of marijuana’s schedule I classification because, in their opinion, “there are no adequate and well-controlled studies proving efficacy.” Of course, with only a dozen or so scientists in the whole county even permitted to interact with pot and humans can there be any wonder why such studies aren’t more prevalent?

    (By the way, remember the results last year of the series of FDA-approved ‘gold standard’ clinical trials assessing the safety and efficacy of inhaled cannabis in severely ill patients? Apparently neither does the DEA. Nor are they aware of these ‘well-controlled’ studies of medical cannabis. Or these.)

    Interestingly, according to the DEA’s 2010 white paper on cannabis (no longer online), last year there were a total of 18 scientists licensed by the government to work with marijuana in a clinical setting. Perhaps next year there will only be ten. If the DEA and NIDA have there way perhaps by 2013 there will be zero.

    As for the other 95 US scientists legally authorized by the federal government to assess the efficacy of ‘marijuana extracts and marijuana derivatives’ in animals, most of them were here last week — at the annual meeting of the International Cannabinoid Research Society. But even these ‘chosen few’ acknowledge that their work has next to no influence on the very administration that authorizes it.

    Marijuana Researchers Meet At Pheasant Run
    Researchers from around the world studying the effects of marijuana and exploring possible medical uses meet each year to compare notes and share their findings

    About 250 scientists from around the world have gathered this weekend at Pheasant Run Resort sitting through seminars titled “Endocannabinoid Signaling in Periimplantation Biology,” and “Cannabinoids and HIV Pathogenicity,” to name a few, for the 21st Annual Symposium of the International Cannabinoid Research Society.

    ICRS members meet once a year to compare notes on research studying how cannabinoids, compounds from the cannabis plant (more commonly known as marijuana) or from the brain called endocannabinoids, affect the body and how it functions.

    While most attendees are scientists, many are graduate students or training scientists as well as physicians interested in learning how these chemicals might be useful in treating human disease.

    “We are all around the world working on our own projects,” said Cecilia Hillard, ICRS executive director, professor of pharmacology and director of the Neuroscience Research Center at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

    “That’s why it’s so wonderful for us to get together once a year so we can really share things that we learn,” she said.

    For example, she said someone may be studying how bone is formed, and she is studying how the brain works.

    “I learn a lot by learning how the bone is formed, and they learn about how neurons work,” Hillard said. “It’s really a lot of what we call a ‘cross-fertilization’ of ideas.”

    While the society is not political, Hillard says the type of research that is done on the controversial topic of medical and personal use of marijuana is nonetheless important.

    “We’re carrying out scientific investigations trying to understand what these molecules do,” Hillard said. “What we try to contribute to the debate is the reality.”

    She said scientific investigation is done in a very neutral way, trying to understand what these molecules do.

    “The mass appeal is, ‘is there a good use for this in the treatment of human disease?'” Hillard said. “Most of us really have a passion for looking at these molecules because there is a lot of potential for treatment of human disease.”

    The findings of this research are published in scientific journals so that the information is available to anyone. She said sometimes “you have no idea the impact your work is having.” Hillard said part of the mission of the ICRS is to educate the public.

    “I wish the politicians would (look at the data) but I don’t think they do,” she said.

  • by Russ Belville, NORML Outreach Coordinator November 30, 2010

    The little red police cars show you the zero-tolerance states. If there is a time next to it, like 24h, that's the mandatory jail time you serve immediately.

    Today the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration posted a press release entitled “Drug Use Among Fatally Injured Drivers Increased Over the Last Five Years“.  The release summarizes the full report that examines the the drug test results of drivers who had been killed in automobile crashes.  While the report itself is objective and offers many caveats about reading it as an indictment of drug-using drivers as serious safety risk, the mainstream media hasn’t been as “fair and balanced” and the Drug Czar has jumped on the release to forward his agenda.

    The headline from the Associated Press reads: “Gov’t: Drugs were in 1 in 5 drivers killed in 2009“.  The lede for the story is:

    About 1 in 5 drivers who were killed last year in car crashes tested positive for drugs, raising concerns about the impact of drugs on auto safety, the government reported Tuesday.

    Other outlets like USA Today give it a more chilling headline: “U.S.: Third of tests on motorists killed shows drug use“.  The discrepancy results from the AP considering all drivers who were killed when not every driver killed was drug tested.  The USA Today considers the “tests on motorists killed”, thereby discounting the 37% of killed drivers who were never drug tested.  Whatever – 20% of all drivers or 33% of all drivers tested – they’re dead, they drove, there’s drugs, be afraid!

    The AP then follows with a second paragraph that points out the obvious logical fallacy of “correlation = causation” – just because dead drivers had drugs in their system doesn’t mean drugs caused the accident that killed them – something the USA Today article never addresses:

    Researchers with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said the new data underscored a growing problem of people driving with drugs in their systems. But they cautioned that it was not clear that drugs caused the crashes and more research was needed to determine how certain drugs can hinder a person’s ability to drive safely.

    However, while AP doesn’t get around to distinguishing what exactly “drugs” refers to until paragraph seven, USA Today opens by explaining we’re talking about all drugs, prescription and recreational:

    One-third of all the drug tests done on drivers killed in motor vehicle accidents came back positive for drugs ranging from hallucinogens to prescription pain killers last year — a 5 percentage point increase since 2005, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reported Tuesday.

    Nobody recommends driving while impaired by drugs – legal or illegal.  NORML has maintained this as a core Principle of Responsible Use for years.  But there are many legal prescription drugs that will cause impairment that bear the warning “Until you know how you may be affected by this drug, do not drive or operate heavy machinery,” which suggests to me that once you do know how it affects you, it’s your judgment call.  In fact, one of those drugs is prescription dronabinol, the synthetic cannabinoid THC marketed as “Marinol”.

    AP’s seventh paragraph also points out that presence of a drug in your system may have no bearing on whether that drug was impairing you in the first place:

    The tests took into account both legal and illegal drugs, including heroin, methadone, morphine, cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana, LSD, prescription drugs and inhalants. The amount of time the drug could linger in the body varied by drug type, the researchers said, so it was unclear when the drivers had used the drugs prior to the fatal crashes.

    Cannabis metabolites can be detectable in urine for weeks and THC itself can be detected blood for at least six hours.  Most illegal drugs can be detected for a few days in urine and a few hours in blood.  Prescription drugs are just as varied.  So we’ve got 20% or 33% of killed drivers who had a drug in their system that may or may not have contributed to the crash that killed them and they may or may not have taken that drug before driving.

    For comparison’s sake, USA Today links to the stat that drowsiness was a factor in 17% of all fatal crashes.  You just may be more likely to die in a crash caused by lack of a nap as by taking the pill to get a good night’s sleep.  Are you scared yet?  Well, you should be, because the whole point of scaring you about the drugged drivers is the push for nationwide zero-tolerance DUID laws.  Back to the USA Today:

    Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, called the numbers of fatalities involving drugs “alarmingly high,” and called for more states to pass laws making it a crime to have illegal drugs in the body while driving, no matter how much. Seventeen states already have such laws.

    The lack of research also presents a problem for lawmakers to develop laws. They can outlaw the use of all illegal drugs while driving, but what about someone who took a prescription sleeping pill a few hours ago?

    Since they can outlaw the illegal drugs and there is no political cost in doing so, they will.  These “zero tolerance” laws means if they detect any metabolite of any illegal drug, you are guilty of driving impaired.  Since that joint you smoked could be detectable long after its effects had worn off, you’d be an impaired driver in the eyes of the law even if you were completely sober and unimpaired.  Since marijuana is detectable for much longer periods than most any other drug, legal or illegal, “zero tolerance” laws amount to witch hunts for cannabis consumers behind the wheel.

    The irony here is that compared to the threat from drinking drivers, drowsy drivers, texting drivers, and prescription drugged drivers, the threat from drivers using cannabis is negligible.  Just last week we took a look at a study in the Netherlands that showed that experienced users can develop a tolerance to the psychomotor impairing effects of cannabis.  This summer we examined a study performed in Iowa and Connecticut that showed cannabis-using drivers performed as well on a driving simulator after smoking marijuana as they did before smoking marijuana.  (If you’d like the full examination of marijuana and driving, please see Paul Armentano’s impeccable white paper, Cannabis and Driving: A Scientific and Rational Review.)

    As for the prescription drugs, there isn’t much political benefit in threatening a majority of your constituents, especially the older ones who do most of the voting, with a DUI charge for the pills the doctor required them to take every day.  Also consider the lobbying money and clout of Big Pharma that won’t look kindly on strict new driving laws that might cause people to use less pills.

    No, the per se limit on prescription drugs isn’t coming to your state anytime soon… but maybe the end of driving privileges for cannabis consumers in your state is.  The seventeen states with current per se DUID laws are:

    • Arizona (except for medical marijuana patients), Utah, South Dakota, Illinois, Indiana, Delaware, and Georgia already have these zero tolerance laws for any THC or metabolites of THC – if you toked within the past week, you could already be an impaired driver.
    • Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Rhode Island have zero tolerance for THC in the blood – if you toked before bed you might be an impaired driver in the morning.
    • Nevada and Ohio consider you impaired if they detect 2 nanograms (2 billionths of a gram) of THC per milliliter of blood (2ng/ml) and Pennsylvania raises that limit to 5ng/ml.
    • Virginia, Minnesota, and North Carolina have zero tolerance laws for drugs that do not include cannabis or its metabolites.

    Learn what the DUID laws are in your state.

  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director November 6, 2010

    The Good: I’m confirmed to appear this evening live on CNN to discuss the political aftermath and strategies for future Cannabis Prohibition law reforms around the 7:30 PM  hour (eastern).

    The Bad: Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske will appear live around 5:30 PM (eastern) to discuss cannabis legalization efforts post the close defeat of Prop 19 this week in California.

    Update: Watch NORML on CNN here.

    Regrettably, because of longstanding protocol at the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), the so-called drug czar will not appear live and/or debate with a representative from NORML. Instead, viewers and taxpayers are deprived of the opportunity for a civil discussion from two opposing viewpoints over a long-simmering public policy debate that’s been underway for over 40 years in America.

    Instead, the drug czar’s media protocol dictates that he/she generally appear first in public discussions on TV or on the radio (live debates in front of an audience are verboten!), and then the advocate addresses their remarks in a later live or taped interview.

    That’s what will happen on CNN tonight on what will be a painfully short, 5-7 minute live interview with Don Lemon.

    See you on the Groove Tube!

  • 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?

    Well…

    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.

    med_mj.2010.poster

    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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