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August 2013
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Oh, to be drug czar

With Gil Kerlikowske scheduled to move to customs and borders, CelebStoner asked Tommy Chong about the drug czar position, ’cause face it – Tommy’s way more entertaining than Gil.

Tommy Chong: If I Were Drug Czar

The first thing I would do if I were Drug Czar is empty the jails of people doing time for drug-related offenses.

I would then turn Detroit into the largest grow room operation in the world. Every empty room in Detroit would be related to growing marijuana.

I would legalize the growing and production of hemp throughout the world.

I would open rehab facilities that offered marijuana as a gateway drug to the sober world.

And I would not tax growers. I would only tax marijuana from the retail side in the form of a business tax and then only a very small tax.

I would legalize (with doctor’s supervision) all drugs, including heroin, cocaine and meth.

Of course, there isn’t a single thing on that list that he would have the actual power to do as drug czar (and I’m sure he knows that – this interview was for fun and to make points). He might be able to provide funding for the rehab facilities, but that’s about it.

In fact, the drug czar doesn’t seem to have all that much power to actually make changes independently.

“ONDCP advises the President on drug-control issues, coordinates drug-control activities and related funding across the Federal government, and produces the annual National Drug Control Strategy…”

Where the drug czar’s power comes is in influencing policy and in being the voice of policy.

If I were drug czar (no, thanks), I would probably get on as much media as possible to talk about the failure of drug policy as it exists, to recommend that the states be given the opportunity to try different policies, and to lobby Congress to help make that happen. I would also use whatever leverage I had in the administration to advise reining in the abuses perpetrated by the DEA and other federal agencies. And, I’d recommend a budget where interdiction and domestic enforcement were dramaticaly slashed (I’d be overruled, of course, but I might get some coverage).

What would you do?

Speculating about what you could actually do as the drug czar isn’t nearly as much fun as unfettered speculation. For a lighter approach, read my piece If I were Contrarian-King of the United States, which I wrote some years ago, but still holds up pretty well today.

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15 comments to Oh, to be drug czar

  • Servetus

    Congress’s gag order, Title VII Office of National Drug Control Policy Reauthorization Act of 1998: H11225, 12 A and 12 B, that mandates drug czars oppose all attempts at illicit drug legalization, would be the first to go. It’s probably unconstitutional, and it’s been one means by which U.S. government officials have committed crimes against humanity by thwarting medical science and prohibiting and preventing the use of cannabinoids in researching, treating or curing various cancers and other illnesses.

  • Howard

    “ONDCP advises the President on drug-control issues, coordinates drug-control activities and related funding across the Federal government, and produces the annual National Drug Control Strategy…”

    That control word suggests there’s not much wiggle room for whomever is the Drug Czar. Reminds me of the phrase, “To a man with a hammer, every problem is a nail…”

  • crut

    Oh wow.
    .
      After having some personal issues at the beginning of this week, I’m now catching up with all the developments.

      Gupta, Kerlikowske, Media MMJ scramble, and the Cellphone Ban discussion. This is incredible. Who’s the conductor of this 300MPH freight train anyways? Cause I’m enjoying the ride so far, and I can’t wait for it to stop at a large field of Green with no fences and a Big blue sky.

    • allan

      aaah… the as yet to be composed Legalizerers’ 300mph Freight Train Symphony… full of clashing cymbals, bass drum (and lots of smoke…)

      and btw… I’m proud to say I never owned a paisley shirt (which of course is relevant to nothing but it appeared on my screen so I had to go with it)(it might be that my kushbaby is ripe and oh so tasty, yummm...)

      also btw… it’s Saturday. If you are an appreciator of late ’60s – early ’70s rock and roll and are at your ‘puter today:

      http://www.krvm.org/listen/listen.html

      starting now (11 am, PDT) is my favorite radio time all week (and every week), an hour of the Bea’les and at noon is 3 hours of the best of then (not necessarily the most popular). KRVM is true community sponsored radio, commercial free. Give ’em a listen.

  • primus

    If I were the drug czar, I would…..

    Tell The Truth.

    • Francis

      The sad thing is that there’s only one real requirement for that job, and you just disqualified yourself.

  • claygooding

    After the show Sunday night I expect at least a discussion in congress on re-scheduling cannabis,,if they don’t I think a lot of real doctors are going to start asking why they don’t have marijuana in their tool bag.
    I expect to see a spike of searches for answers from a lot of doctors out there so I am going to start dropping links to the sites that will help doctors find the answers for themselves.

    • Francis

      “After the show Sunday night I expect at least a discussion in congress on re-scheduling cannabis”

      I don’t know, man. I hope you’re right, but I kind of expect Congress to continue doing what it does best, i.e., being worthless. We’ve got a recent poll showing 85% support(!) for allowing adults to use cannabis for therapeutic purposes. We’ve got a rapidly-growing MAJORITY supporting full legalization. We’ve got more and more people discussing the COMPLETE end of the drug war, and the regulation of even the so-called “hard” drugs. And then we have the U.S. Congress who is still trying to decide if maybe we should allow farmers to grow industrial hemp. It’s f***ing surreal. I don’t doubt that cannabis will be legalized in this country in the near future, but I’m beginning to suspect that it will be entirely de facto. And in 20 years, someone from the next generation will come across one of those “10 crazy laws that are still on the books” stories, and just beneath the one about how in Arizona, it’s illegal for donkeys to sleep in bathtubs, they’ll learn that: “Under United States federal law, it’s technically illegal to possess the dried flowers of the cannabis plant.” And they’ll just laugh at the absurdity.

    • Hope

      Clay. You’ve been keeping up with the mess of the Drug War longer than that. You know they won’t do a damn thing. Like always, our so called reps are blissfully ignorant of the truth in these matters and those reps aren’t “Wishy Washy”. They’ll stand their ground, even when they know they’re wrong.

      All these overreaching laws? Feeding the prison and policing “Industry”.

    • Hope

      I’ve thought so many times over the years that “Surely this news will change things. Surely people will wake up.” I’ve thought it so many times.

      I was wrong every time. So now … I’m not counting on anything happening until it happens.

  • allan

    also Sunday late night/monday early morn is the Perseid meteor shower, if you can get away from city lights this year the show is in the dark of moon and should be spektaxular.

  • Tony Aroma

    Where the drug czar’s power comes is in influencing policy and in being the voice of policy.

    Do you really think Gill had any influence on policy? I sincerely doubt it. Before he was Czar, Gill seemed a lot more reasonable. If he really is reasonable, then I’d say he had zero influence on policy. Rhetoric aside, the drug war has only escalated since he’s been Czar.

    I think you’re giving him too much credit. He’s been a spokesperson and nothing more.

    • I was talking about the position, not Gil. No, I don’t think Gil had any influence on policy. But I think some previous holders of the position did.

      • Citizen Teus

        I think Pete’s on to something there. “Effective” DONDCPs have only been able to influence policy in one direction – escalation.

  • kaptinemo

    Germane, tangentially: Sunil Aggarwal dishes out the dirt on Kevvie in his Berkeley days. You will not be surprised at what you read concerning the formulation of his tactics. The past is indeed prologue.

    I always had that sense, literally from the moment I saw him being virtually petted and caressed by some of the most rabid DrugWarriors of the day during a 1999 Congressional hearing on C-SPAN, that he’d be trouble for reformers. The rest, as they say, is history.

    (Sadly, Dennis Kucinich, who I’d admired greatly, had brought Kevvie to the hearing and was singing his praises. Oh, Dennis, you should have known better! DrugWarriors are fascists down to the sub-atomic level!)

    You can bet that, like most career bureaucrats, Ol’ Kevvie, having had a taste of the power and the perks of rubbing shoulders with the real Elite – which he aspires to, but will never be accepted by – is scheming to get the next DrugCzar position. Given the job’s requirements, it would appear he’s eminently qualified…