Jul 23, 2009
Is there something in the water over at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy that turns every new drug czar into a babbling idiot? If not, how else can one explain the latest statement from new ONDCP honcho Gil Kerlikowske? Has he somehow been possessed by the spirit of his predecessor, John Walters?
While never a reformer, Kerlikowske had a reputation for being pretty rational while he was police chief in Seattle. But a story in Wednesday's Fresno Bee quotes the drug czar as saying, "Marijuana is dangerous and has no medicinal benefit."
Bear in mind that this is from an administration whose declared policy is not to attack state medical marijuana laws (even though the law authorizing ONDCP requires the director to "take such actions as necessary to oppose any attempt to legalize the use" of any Schedule I drug). And bear in mind that Mr. Kerlikowske's scientific judgment has been contradicted by, among others, the American College of Physicians, the American Public Health Association, American Nurses Association, American Academy of HIV Medicine, etc., etc., etc.
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Distressingly, Kerlikowske made the remark while tagging along on the latest adventures of California's marijuana "eradication" drive, for which he seems to have become an enthusiastic cheerleader. This is a campaign that, despite a 2,000% increase in plant seizures over the last dozen years, has produced zero reduction in marijuana availability. But it has had one notable impact: Until 2001, the majority of plants seized were on private lands. Now, nearly three-quarters are on public lands -- often environmentally sensitive areas located in national parks and forests. "Eradication" campaigns have literally driven growers into the hills, multiplying the environmental damage.
So the new drug czar is touting policies that make the problem worse while spouting unscientific nonsense. John Walters lives.