I must confess to being confused by the amount of apparent surprise that has greeted Gil Kerlikowske’s recent statements that he is opposed to legalization.
Of course he is. He just got a new job – a government job that has Congressional oversight. And the job description for that new job, well, it wasn’t a handshake and a promise, it wasn’t a typed memo — no, it was written into law by Congress and specifically includes:
“… and take such actions as necessary to oppose any attempt to legalize the use of a substance (in any form) that … is listed in schedule 1…. and has not been approved for use … by the Food and Drug Administration”
So, of course he’s going to say he’s against legalization. It’s his job. I don’t know if it’s his personal view or not, but it certainly is his job to say it.
And, for the most part so far, Kerlikowske is treating the question like someone who’s job it is to answer a particular way. “Legalization isn’t in my vocabulary,” “Legalization isn’t on the plate,” “Legalization isn’t an option,” etc.
If Walters got the question, he’d go on at length with detailed plausible-sounding (but still full of crap) reasons why marijuana should remain illegal. Kerlikowske offers up weak-ass nonsense and then merely retreats into “I’m not going to talk about it.” Maybe it’s because he doesn’t have his repertoire built up yet, but it may also be that he just doesn’t care – and as long as he’s said legalization isn’t an option, he’s covered.
Take a look at this exchange again:
Q: Marijuana. Do you support legalization of marijuana?
Q: And why is that?
Kerlikowske: It’s a dangerous drug.
Q: Now, why is it a dangerous drug?
Kerlikowske: It is a dangerous drug. There are numbers of calls to hotlines for people requesting help from marijuana. A number of people that have been arrested, and we test people and have data on this, that are arrested throughout the country, come in to the system with marijuana in their system, as arrests.
Q: But that’s — you were talking to me before about causality and correlation.
Q: So why is — I mean, you could probably say that about sugar, caffeine, and, I don’t know, bubble gum. Maybe not bubble gum.
Kerlikowske: I would tell you this – that the legalization vocabulary doesn’t exist for me, and it certainly was made clear that it does not exist in President Obama’s vocabulary.
Doesn’t sound like a true believer to me.
If we ever want the ‘drug czar’ to stop opposing legalization, we need to change the language in Congress, and Kerlikowske could be giving us the opening to do that.
Everybody these days is calling for the discussion — yes, even politicians!
If Kerlikowske was giving compelling reasons against legalization (assuming such existed), then it could be a problem, but by merely saying “I’m not going to talk about it” (or “it’s not in my vocabulary”), he makes it obvious (or gives us the opportunity to make it obvious) that the authorizing language is preventing the discussion that everyone wants.
It’s then easy to make the case to Congress that the Director can hardly “assist in the establishment of policies, goals, objectives, and priorities for the National Drug Control Program” if he doesn’t even have all the vocabulary.
Personally, I love the “not in my vocabulary” line — it’s a great one to ridicule, and, if the one person in this country who has the most direct and specific employment reason to oppose legalization can’t get any more enthused than that, then our opposition is pretty weak.