Marijuana legalization? A White House rebuttal, finally
White House 'drug czar' Gil Kerlikowske lays out his most thorough arguments yet against marijuana legalization. They help clear up confusion over White House drug policy, and can serve as talking points for parents and officials.
The Obama White House has finally laid out its most thorough, reasoned rebuttal to arguments for marijuana legalization – countering a campaign that is gaining alarming momentum at the state level.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
“Marijuana legalization – for any purpose – is a nonstarter in the Obama administration,” said Mr. Kerlikowske, a former police chief himself.
It’s almost certain that California voters will be asked in a November ballot initiative whether to allow local governments to regulate and tax marijuana (similar to taxes on sales of alcohol). Other states are considering similar proposals, which are really a backdoor way to legalize pot.
(For a Monitor news story on the California ballot initiative, click here)
Thirteen states have decriminalized the use or possession of small amounts of marijuana, which is not the same as legalizing it. Selling it is still illegal except in states where it is used for medical purposes. And under federal law, any sort of marijuana use or sale is a criminal offense.
The drug czar’s remarks are worth notice for two reasons. First, they provide needed talking points for those who oppose legalization but who can’t seem to make their message resonate in the face of a well-financed, well-organized pro-marijuana effort. Second, they help clear up confusion about the White House policy on legalization.
When Attorney General Eric Holder announced last year that US law enforcement officials would neither raid nor prosecute medical marijuana dispensaries or those using them, states got mixed signals. Mr. Holder explained it as a matter of the best use of scarce federal law enforcement resources, which he didn’t want to expend in the now 14 states that have approved some use of medical marijuana.
But “a lot of people believe the administration is somewhat in favor of the decriminalization of marijuana,” says Scott Kirkland, police chief for El Cerrito, in the San Francisco Bay area. In California, the public, city council members, city managers, even police chiefs have “misinterpreted” the administration’s position, says Mr. Kirkland, the spokesman for marijuana issues for the California Police Chiefs Association.
The drug czar couldn’t have been more plain. On medical marijuana, which has strong public backing in opinion polls, the former Seattle police chief said that “science should determine what a medicine is, not popular vote.” As Kerlikowske pointed out, marijuana is harmful – and he has the studies to back it up. Read the footnotes in his speech; they’re sobering, especially No. 8.