There’s a fascinating interview with deputy drug czar Burns in The Arcata Eye. I believe the interview was conducted by Kevin Hoover.
The Arcata Eye is certainly not known for is support of the drug war, yet Burns agreed to a 25 minute interview in conjunction with some publicity-seeking busts. Hoover did a masterful job for the most part, starting off the interview as a standard media interview, but then gradually increasing the stakes. Burns was forced to scramble to keep up, thereby leaving some rather gaping holes in his answers.
Bruce Mirken at MPP blog has identified a couple of blatant lies by Burns in the interview, but those are by no means the only ones.
Eye: Do we know that? Is there enough research to indicate that it has no medical efficacy? I can bring you chemotherapy patients who would tell you that it is the only thing that suppresses their nausea and gives them an appetite. So is there nothing to what they‰re saying and feeling?
Burns: I‰m saying that maybe that, the… Anybody can say something makes me feel better anecdotally. And I hear that a lot. ‹Marijuana is the only thing that makes me feel good.Š I say you should try crack, because from what I hear, crack cocaine will make you feel really good as well. This is not about making people feel better, it‰s about as a country and the effects it will have on all of us, all 305 million of us. Because someone tells me that ‹smoking crack cocaine releases my nausea and allows me to have healthier appetite,Š does that mean that we legalize it nationwide, and that its available to kids in a greater number? We have to make those kind of policy decisions. And we ought not make them on people who say, ‹Me personally, it makes me feel better.Š
At one point the Eye mentions the argument that there hasn’t been enough formal study of marijuana as medicine, and Burns replies that there’s no need to study it — the fact that it’s smoked rules it out as serious medicine.
Later, the Eye asks about the Compassionate IND program, where the federal government supplies marijuana to grandfathered patients. Burns thinks he has a chance to score:
Burns: That goes back to the people that said, ‹You know what, we really oughta study that more.Š So we do, and we set up a program, and we give a small number of people marijuana, and I know most of them by name because they show up in every hearing that I go to and say, ‹I‰ve been smoking marijuana for years and the federal government gives me this marijuana.Š Well, that was an attempt to do what the critics said. Why don‰t we study it more?
Except, of course, that the federal government has refused to actually study those patients, because they already know what they’d find out and don’t want that public.
Eye: Philosophically… you‰re a Constitutional law teacher, I believe?
Burns: A little bit.
Eye: …and the whole premise of America‰s freedom and self determination. How can we reconcile that with the government telling us what we can ingest and what we can‰t?
Burns: Well, I think, first of all we settled it Appomattox, the fact that we‰re gonna have this thing for the Supremacy Clause, and when push comes to shove we‰ll decide on certain issues who will prevail, the federal government or the state. And on many issues it‰s the states, and for the most part, I think most Americans would agree that it should be that way. But on some issues that affect all of us for the good of the order we have to come to some consensus. And not everybody‰s happy, are they? And every time we don‰t get to do what we want, I know there are states where they really really like to marry young girls, 12, 11, or 10 and they would argue to you, ‹How dare the federal government preclude us from engaging in certain activities?Š Well, in some instances we just say your, quote, ‹constitutional rightsŠ and your freedom to do certain things gets trumped by the rest of us who say, ‹You know that‰s just not a good idea.Š
Nothing like putting scare quotes around “constitutional rights” to make it clear what kind of American you are.