General Barry McCaffrey, who served as “drug czar” under President Bill Clinton from 1996 to 2001, was asked about marijuana legalization at a February 23 panel discussion of the Council on Foreign Relations. The panel’s focus was primarily on US/Mexican relations, particularly during this period of intense prohibition-related violence. McCaffrey indicated that – now that he has left public life – he could admit that he did not care about adult marijuana use.
McCaffrey told the panel,
There’s a 10-minute answer, there’s an hour answer, there’s a three-day answer. And, fortunately, since I’m not in public life, I actually don’t care. I care about 6th graders through 12th graders. If you’re 40 years old, and you’re living in Oregon, and you have 12 giant pot plants in the back of your log cabin, knock yourself out.
The admission prompted outrage from prominent reformers in Canada who have long seen US policy as a major obstacle to domestic changes.
“General McCaffrey is a hypocrite,” says Marc Emery, Leader of the British Columbia Marijuana Party. “Under his watch, America arrested millions of peaceful marijuana users, opposed states that enacted medical marijuana reforms and pressured Canada to not decriminalize marijuana. And now that he’s not getting a paycheck, he admits he doesn’t care? It’s outrageous.”
Kirk Tousaw, a Vancouver criminal defense lawyer that recently succeeded in having portions of Canada’s medical marijuana regime stricken as unconstitutional, had mixed feelings.
“I, of course, feel for the millions of people whose lives have been harmed by cannabis prohibition,” says Tousaw, “but I am glad that General McCaffrey understands that adult marijuana use should not be a matter of criminal law. I just wish that more people, especially those who are in active public life, had the courage to admit that change is urgently needed.”
See this video on YouTube.