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February 2011
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Gil Kerlikowske on the Drug War

from the Drug Czar’s “blog

These consultations, across the country and across government, helped highlight an important truth — that public safety isn’t the only thing threatened by drug use; drugs also pose an extremely complex and dynamic challenge to public health. And the public safety community cannot bear the full weight of addressing drug use and its consequences. The result of our engagement with the American people is the Obama Administration’s National Drug Control Strategy — a shift in how we address drug control, by restoring balance in our efforts and treating drug addiction as a brain disease rather than a moral failing.

Tourette syndrome is a brain disease. That doesn’t mean we arrest everyone who says “fuck.”

Despite recent calls to do so, legalizing drugs is not the answer. Our opposition to legalization is not born out of a culture-war or drug-war mentality. It is born out of the recognition that our drug problem is a major public health threat, and that drug addiction is a preventable and treatable disease. Already drug use — legal and illegal — is the source of too many of our Nation’s problems. Why would we implement policies that would make these problems worse?

As President Obama said — we’ve made huge strides in reducing smoking, drunk driving, and other public health problems through a policy approach that stresses prevention and changing public attitudes about dangerous behavior. There’s no reason we can’t build on those successes and achieve the same results with drug use and its consequences.

We can’t change public attitudes about dangerous behavior as long as we give the control of it to criminals.

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24 comments to Gil Kerlikowske on the Drug War

  • Dante

    “As President Obama said — we’ve made huge strides in reducing smoking, drunk driving, and other public health problems through a policy approach that stresses prevention and changing public attitudes about dangerous behavior. There’s no reason we can’t build on those successes and achieve the same results with drug use and its consequences.”

    OK, who wants to tell Gil that in order to “achieve the same results”, he and the rest of the drug warriors must be fired, and drugs must be treated just like alcohol?

    What do you say, Gil? Do you want to help solve this problem, or keep your job? You can’t have both.

  • Sick........!

    And despite all your effort and wasted taxes, 1.3 percent of the population is still addicted to drugs….after 40 + years.

    • tintguy

      Actually if memory serves me correctly it has been at that 1.3 precent rate for as long as they have been tracking it.

  • Jake

    Obscenely hypocritical! The “huge strides” through “policy” (other than drunk driving) never involved locking people and up taking away their freedom! So, yes Gil, why would YOU implement policies that make these problems worse?!

    Also notice whenever he talks about drugs, he only talks about addiction. Again another drug warrior unable to separate use from misuse… And addiction being a “brain disease”… is that his ‘medical interpretation’.. a lovely way to ignore all the other socio-economic factors that can lead to addiction… ones he helps perpetuate by locking up parents for victimless ‘crimes’.

    • pt

      Even with drunk driving, it isn’t the drinking that is illegal. It is the driving while or after drinking.

  • Rhayader

    Our opposition to legalization is not born out of a culture-war or drug-war mentality.

    Absolute bull. You don’t get to lock up a million people per year and then claim you’re not subscribing to the war mentality.

  • darkcycle

    It’s P.R. Pure claptrap to justify the same old failed policy. New packaging, same old faulty product.

  • Dante

    ” Why would we implement policies that would make these problems worse?”

    You tell us, Gil. Why did you?

  • Scott

    Like I basically said with respect to Hillary Clinton’s recent statements, the missing key ingredient is someone like Pete constantly and directly challenging these statements in at least a national primetime spotlight (giving him solid exposure to the majority of the American mainstream).

    Without that, these careless statements will continue, and we will not have the public support we need to repeal the Controlled Substances Act.

    By the way, the Commerce Clause is being discussed due to the recent ruling regarding ObamaCare (e.g. there are a few pieces in the Wall Street Journal online).

    Are you fine folks going to conservative comment threads and pointing out the ruling of Gonzales v. Raich (including the first paragraph by Justice Clarence Thomas about the ruling’s undermining of our written national foundation), and that the Supreme Court’s interpretation of that clause hated by conservatives is the sole “constitutional” basis for the Controlled Substances Act?

    If not, why not? The Commerce Clause debate is a strong opportunity to persuade the too-many people who casually support the prohibitionists by not getting in their way.

    One area where the corrupt connection between the CSA and our Constitution is going to affect all Americans in a direct negative way (enough to tick them off, even) is the legal precedence established by the likes of Gonzales v. Raich when it is applied to things like forcing people to buy insurance.

    The Commerce Clause angle is a great one for quickly beating conservatives (the CSA violates many, if not all, conservative principles), and that clause is in the spotlight more and more these days. We need to be in that spotlight too!

  • kaptinemo

    Gil and the prohibs remind me of the Catholic Cardinals in Galileo’s day. They just…will…NOT…look into the telescope. Everything they needed to know was in the Bible, and they were the absolute ‘experts’. So, like moronic jackasses, they just repeated the ‘party line’ while the world engaged in the Renaissance.

    Today, no one remembers the names of those Cardinals. Their names may be available to those who bother to dig into moldy, old Church records out of monomaniacal curiosity, but for the vast majority of moderns, those names and those who bore them are about as important as the implausible and hilariously laughable dogmas they defended. Meaning, not at all. Time and truth have passed them by.

    Drug prohibition’s dogmas are just as implausible today as alcohol Prohibition’s were almost a century ago; as intellectually bankrupt as the idea of a terrocentric universe was even back in ol’ Gali’s day. Just as nobody recalls the names of those Cardinals, nobody remembers the names of those who favored alcohol Prohibition anymore, either; why bother? Their impact upon history was minimal, despite all the misery they caused.

    Likewise, when it’s all over but the shouting, no one will remember drug prohibition’s defenders but historians who take an interest in obscurities; life will pass the prohibs by after drug prohibition is retired. As they so greatly deserve.

  • Ron Combs

    Every time Gil opens his mouth it pisses me off. And then i smoke a joint to chill out.If anything he’s doing more to promote cannabis than to stop it.Thanks Gil. You’re a pillar of bullshit.

  • DdC

    SOS… This is your brain on drugwar…

    A shift in how we address drug control, by restoring balance in our efforts and treating drug addiction as a brain disease rather than a moral failing?

    US: McCaffrey’s Brain On Drugs 05/04/00
    The so-called harm-reduction approach to drugs confuses people with terminology. All drug policies claim to reduce harm. No reasonable person advocates a position consciously designed to be harmful. The real question is which policies actually decrease harm and increase good. The approach advocated by people who say they favor harm reduction would in fact harm Americans Mr. Barry R. McCaffrey.

    McCaffrey Cancer Treatment.jpg 09/03/00

    “We’ve got a national campaign by drug legalizers, in my view, to try and use medicinal uses of drugs and legalization of hemp as a stalking horse to get in under the radar screen.”
    ~ Gen. Barry McCaffrey – Former Drug Czar (Clinton)

    McCaffrey Advocates Prevention, Treatment
    The longtime rallying cry of a “war on drugs” to describe the effort to curtail illegal drug use in the United States has become “misleading” the White House drug policy director says. A more accurate comparison is to the fight against cancer — “Prevention coupled with treatment accompanied by research,” Barry McCaffrey said in his final report on America’s drug problem.

    McCaffrey Blasts Medicinal Marijuana!

  • Cliff

    Great job guys, I think you all covered everything very well.

  • DdC

    “The result of our engagement with the American people is the Obama Administration’s National Drug Control Strategy”
    ~ Gil Kerlikowske, Drug Czar

    Czech Police Want to Use Seized Marijuana for Treatment
    Czech policemen have proposed that the seized marijuana be used for medical purposes, for instance for the treatment of patients with multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease, the daily Lidove noviny (LN) writes Friday.

    Washington State Politician Proposes Selling Pot in Liquor Stores
    A Washington State Democrat has introduced a bill to legalize marijuana and sell it in liquor stores.

    Oakland Plan Permits 5 New Pot Dispensaries, Farms
    Oakland’s dream of licensing some of the largest marijuana farms in the world was crushed by both a failed November ballot measure to legalize recreational pot and the threat of prosecution.

    Medical Marijuana Employment Rights Bill Introduced in California Legislature
    Jan 31 2011
    State Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) introduced legislation Thursday that would prevent California employers from discriminating against medical marijuana patients. Senate Bill 129 would not change current law, which prohibits employees from using medical marijuana at the workplace. According to Senator Leno, his bill “simply establishes a medical cannabis patient’s right to work.” SB 129 would reverse a 2008 California Supreme Court ruling that granted employers the right to fire or refuse to hire workers with a physician’s recommendation for medical marijuana.

    Well, it’s a start…

  • DdC

    “Our opposition to legalization is not born out of a culture-war or drug-war mentality.”
    ~ Gil Kerlikowske, Drug Czar

    The Eternal Drug War US CA: OPED

    Agent Fired for Legalization Views Sues Border Patrol
    The US Border Patrol is being sued by a former agent who was fired in 2009 after expressing opinions in support of drug legalization and of sympathy for illegal immigrants to a coworker.

    East Lansing Moratorium on Medical Marijuana Nearing End US MI

    Fruitport Township Imposes Moratorium on Medical Marijuana US MI

    Gil Kashkowske is Drug War Mentality Retarded…

  • Servetus

    Why would we implement policies that would make these problems worse?” (Select One)

    (a) Because “we” are incompetent and the assigned task is way beyond us.

    (b) Because “we” live in a belief culture delusion and “we” don’t need no stinkin’ science to tell us anything.

    (c ) Because “we” hate hippies.

    (d) Because “we” hate racial minorities.

    (e) All of the above.

  • vicky vampire

    Oh Christ,just legalize all drugs put in packages and call it Broccoli,then only responsible folks will partake!! everyone hates Broccoli, Yeah I’m being has silly has our dimwit Gil.

    Oh yes I know your right guys whenever,they talk about drugs its about addiction, they don’t want you to know that there are millions of responsible casual recreational and medical,users of Cannabis and other assorted drugs cocaine,opium,ecstasy etc. The addiction angle engenders fear.

  • Peter

    Servetus:
    all of the above, for sure. Something that I haven’t seen discussed on Rant is the double whammy of wod scape-goating, immigration + drugs. As the law stands at present it is impossible for any foreigner to immigrate to the US who has been convicted of a drug offence, with one very slight loophole, known as the “John Lennon exception”….waivers against inadmissability are available for most offences, including many violent crimes, but are specifically denied to foreign-born spouses of us citizens who may, at any time, have been convicted of a drug possession charge, anywhere in the world. The current circumstances and life-style of that person are deemed irrelevant and they face a life-time of inadmissability to the US.

  • kaptinemo

    “Our opposition to legalization is not born out of a culture-war or drug-war mentality.”

    Get the fire extinguisher, the man’s pants are fully engulfed in flames!

    It’s all about ‘culture war’. The symbology used, the language implemented, all smack of that. In the beginning, it was all about the perceived need for the preservation of the dominant White Anglo-Saxon Protestant American culture from the ‘hordes’ of immigrants (from predominantly Catholic countries) possessing ‘alien’ social values (wine with dinner? beer with lunch? gasp!) and how it was so terribly necessary to subdue and control the ‘degenerate races’ (African-, Asian- and Hispanic-Americans) who were thought to be the ‘barbarians within the gates’ that threatened the social order of the day. And those who wrote the earliest drug laws made no bones about their intentions, and why.

    The DrugWar is indeed a culture war, declared long ago by racist bigots cocksure of their moral superiority. Were such people to speak today they’d immediately be branded as the racists they were, and dismissed with the contempt they’d deserve.

    The DrugWar truly is the last vestige of the ancient ‘Jim Crow’ laws, but because only scholars and reformers know this (and the prohibs aren’t about to make that public), the laws never have received the public scrutiny that a public debate would provide.

    And thus, a ‘culture war’ based upon that long-discredited racial bigotry continues to harm those it was intended to.

  • Chris

    “Sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.”

  • Peter

    I meant to post this link to the legal papers concerning John Lennon:

    http://openjurist.org/527/f2d/187/lennon-v-immigration-and-naturalization-service

    here’s the first para:
    We have come a long way from the days when fear and prejudice toward alien races were the guiding forces behind our immigration laws. The Chinese exclusion acts of the 1880’s and the ‘barred zone’ created by the 1917 Immigration Act have, thankfully, been removed from the statute books and relegated to the historical treatises. Nevertheless, the power of Congress to exclude or deport natives of other countries remains virtually unfettered. In the vast majority of deportation cases, the fate of the alien must therefore hinge upon narrow issues of statutory construction. To this rule, the appeal of John Lennon, an internationally known ‘rock’ musician, presents no exception. We are, in this case, called upon to decide whether Lennon’s 1968 British conviction for possession of cannabis resin renders him, as the Board of Immigration Appeals believed, an excludable alien under § 212(a)(23) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. § 1182(a)(23), which applies to those convicted of illicit possession of marijuana. We hold that Lennon’s conviction does not fall within the ambit of this section.

  • DdC

    While Nixon Campaigned, FBI Watched John Lennon
    In December 1971, John Lennon sang at an Ann Arbor, Mich., concert calling for the release of a man who had been given 10 years in prison for possessing two marijuana cigarettes. The song he wrote for the occasion, “John Sinclair,” was remarkably effective. Within days, the Michigan Supreme Court ordered Mr. Sinclair released.

    What Lennon did not know at the time was that there were F.B.I. informants in the audience taking notes on everything from the attendance (15,000) to the artistic merits of his new song. (“Lacking Lennon’s usual standards,” his F.B.I. file reports, and “Yoko can’t even remain on key.”) The government spied on Lennon for the next 12 months, and tried to have him deported to England. continued…