Marijuana Advocate Mason Tvert Launches Petition Targeting Drug Czar

The Obama administration’s relaxed rules regarding enforcement of laws regarding medical marijuana has led to renewed optimism among weed advocates that across-the-boards legalization might be a more realistic possibility. But shortly thereafter, Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske issued a statement referring to such a move a “non-starter.”

Predictably, SAFER’s Mason Tvert, who last week noted a poll showing more people than ever (if still a minority of the populace) would support legalization, isn’t a fan of this viewpoint, and he’s hoping the masses will let Kerlikowske know that the time has come for a change. In addition to writing an open letter to the drug czar, calling the earlier remarks “utterly irresponsible, he’s launched an online petition asking him to “explain why he believes regulating marijuana and treating it like alcohol would result in ‘social and health care costs’ similar to those associated with the use of alcohol, a far more harmful recreational drug according to all objective evidence.”

Look below to read Kerlikowske’s views and Tvert’s response — and then decide about signing that petition.

Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske’s statement:

Marijuana Legalization; A Non-Starter

The Department of Justice earlier this week issued guidelines for Federal prosecutors regarding laws authorizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes. This prompted a flurry of news reports, analysis and commentary, some arguing that the guidelines could be read as the Federal government’s tacit approval of “medical” marijuana. Advocates of marijuana legalization tried to cast the guidelines as a victory, portraying them as a step toward full legalization. Neither of these analyses is correct.

Marijuana legalization, for any purpose, remains a non-starter in the Obama Administration. It is not something that the President and I discuss; it isn’t even on the agenda. Attorney General Holder issued very clear guidelines to U.S. Attorneys about the appropriate use of Federal resources. He did not open the door to legalization.

Regarding state ballot initiatives concerning “medical” marijuana, I believe that medical questions are best decided not by popular vote, but by science. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which studies and approves all medicines in the United States, has made very clear that the raw marijuana plant is not medicine, and any state considering medical marijuana should look very carefully at what has happened in California.

Legalization is being sold as being a cure to ending violence in Mexico, as a cure to state budget problems, as a cure to health problems. The American public should be skeptical of anyone selling one solution as a cure for every single problem. Legalized, regulated drugs are not a panacea — pharmaceutical drugs in this country are tightly regulated and government controlled, yet we know they cause untold damage to those who abuse them.

To test the idea of legalizing and taxing marijuana, we only need to look at already legal drugs — alcohol and tobacco. We know that the taxes collected on these substances pale in comparison to the social and health care costs related to their widespread use.

In a little over three months, my office will deliver to President Obama a National Drug Control Strategy that will strike a balance between public health and public safety, recognizing that reducing demand through a community-wide approach is critical to our success. Legalization would only thwart our efforts and increase the economic and social costs that result from greater drug acceptance and use.

Mason Tvert’s response:

An Open Letter to the Drug Czar About Marijuana Legalization

On the afternoon of Friday, October 23, at a time when government bureaucrats make announcements they hope will not be picked up by the media, you issued a statement boldly declaring:

Marijuana legalization, for any purpose, remains a non-starter in the Obama Administration. It is not something that the President and I discuss; it isn’t even on the agenda.

As the individual most directly responsible for marijuana policy in this country, this seems utterly irresponsible. Worse, your decision does not appear to be based on reason or evidence.

Let’s begin with one glaringly obvious omission in your statement. You failed to cite a single societal or health-related harm caused by the use of marijuana. Not one! Instead, you offered up some weak guilt-by-association scare tactics.

To test the idea of legalizing and taxing marijuana, we only need to look at already legal drugs — alcohol and tobacco. We know that the taxes collected on these substances pale in comparison to the social and health care costs related to their widespread use.

Apparently, you believe that marijuana users should be punished and perhaps even jailed because alcohol, tobacco and pharmaceutical drugs are so harmful to users and society.

Sorry, Mr. Kerlikowske, but that just doesn’t cut it. If you are going to remain closed-minded in your approach to marijuana, you are going to need to step it up. Unfortunately, you know as well as we do that you don’t have a whole lot going for you, which explains your flaccid, evidence-free statement.

Sadly, we have come to expect this kind of nonsensical garbage from our nation’s drug czars. (After all, you have Kevin Sabet, a Bush Administration holdover and former speechwriter for his drug czar, John Walters, feeding you the same old lines.) But what makes your position on marijuana legalization even more shameful is your background as a law enforcement officer on the streets.

You know — and maybe at some point during your tenure you will have the guts to admit — that alcohol is really the drug in our society that causes the greatest amount of harm. This isn’t an attempt to demonize alcohol, mind you; it’s simply based on alcohol’s close association with serious health problems and violent crime, as documented by scientific research and government statistics. The use of marijuana, on the other hand, does not have serious health consequences and is not associated with violent behavior.

Again, you know this from your time on the streets. If you’ve forgotten, just recall the alcohol-fueled Seattle Mardi Gras riot that occurred on your watch. Or ask you’re predecessor, Gen. Barry McCaffrey, who called alcohol “the most dangerous drug in America today,” during a 1999 ONDCP press conference.

So just why is it that you want to punish people who use marijuana, when you know the likely result is that many of these people will simply turn to using alcohol instead? Ya know, because it’s “legal.”

We don’t want to hear that alcohol does not fall under the mission of ONDCP. You, sir, raised the subject by asserting — contrary to everything known about the two substances — that we should look at our experience with alcohol if we want to get a sense of the potential social and health care costs associated with more widespread marijuana use. Moreover, given that the two substances are so popular in our society, you simply cannot discuss the prohibition of marijuana without considering its impact on alcohol usage rates.

You hold a great deal of power in your hands. You can help determine whether we continue to steer adults toward using alcohol — which you know produces serious societal harms — or whether we instead allow them to make the rational choice to use a safer substance: marijuana.

Come on. Show us that it is possible to be the drug czar and be thoughtful, open-minded, and accepting of scientific evidence at the same time. Or, at the very least, why don’t you find some actual statistics to back up your bluster?

– Article from Denver Westword.

Comments

18 Comments

  1. Joshua Snyder on

    More of the same easily refutable untrue statements. Only, he put them all in one letter. Awesome job, asshole!

  2. Devil's Advocate on

    here you are on the CC website,which is paid and run with Marc Emery’s money and time. AND you have the gall to say MJ should stay illegal?!Marc is serving 5 years on a bullshit seed charge because cannabis IS illegal. I ask again, ARE YOU FUCKING STUPID?

  3. Dan-o on

    I disagree. Legalized or not I’m still going to do what I do. I’d prefer to do it WITHOUT the possible legal implications though.

  4. Anonymous on

    Ano 12:04

    You do have a point. Many even!
    But then again, that would be a selfish thing to do wouldn’t it ?
    I only say that I understand verry well what you are talking about, but My personal endgame is to get MJ and other “naturals” beeing shared by everyone for free
    .
    No consessions to that.

    Eventually I want to get my offspring to live like Native Americans ones did> Within the wisdom shared among their tribes.
    >who did not provide jails in order to create artificial inflation of something that abundantly can be grown for free.

    Got to keep my goals high see :)

    Instead They walked a path that was saturated with spirituallity or”oneness with everything”
    For sure did they not shun natural healing herbs and were they free to take advantage of all naturals surrounding them ‘provided there ‘d be a sense of respect towards it all, so why wouldn’t I ?

    >medicine; sounds like “me insane” so if it makes me feel sane then why put me in jail for it? :)

    This collective wisdom I just talked about could be hidden in this modern version of tribes counseling called “the internet”

    Only through the book of law could they conquer this nation of indigenous Freeman but ever since Robert Arthur Menard and the Freeman Society, good hopes have returned that our planet will one day be returned to its rightfull and lawfull inhabitants e.g. Those who want to live without disrupting natural course of happenings on a way that it will cause disrespect or harm to others.

    At some point in time I’m sure most if not all will become conquered by this.

    Untill that time I’ m in so far with you that we all will have to make ends meet.

    Tell yur friends from me will ya ? :)

    By G.G.

  5. Anonymous on

    i say keep weed illegal.why u may ask,heres why.i love weed and smoke everyday 4 25yers.i dont want the government to have a hand in my everyday pleasure,if they get control whos to say wat theyll do to fuck it up.why would we want that?why would i want to overpay and support this ass backwards government?they already have a hand in our pockets.they know if they legalize weed theyll pull the carpet from under the poor class of america.how do you think we lower class survive?drug sales!i know very many familys that relie on drugs to pay their morgage,put clothes on their kids backs etc…i love weed very much but do we really want the govrnment involved

  6. Anonymous on

    THIS GUY IS A GIANT DOUCHE!!!!!!!!!!!! EVERYTIME HE TALKS IT COMES OUT OF HIS MOUTH!!!!!!
    I CAN SMELL THE VINEGAR FROM HERE!!!!!!!!

  7. gstlab3 on

    I AM A THIRTY YEAR DRUG WAR VETRAN., AND I HAVE ONCE BEEN IN THE GROUP OF PEOPLE ASSOCIATED WITH VIOLENCE OR CRIMINAL ACTIVITY AND THAT WAS WHEN I CAME TO EXPIERIANCE THE EFFECTS OF ALCOHOL FOR MYSELF AND WITH NO EDUCATION EITHER!!
    I DID IT TO MYSELF WITH NO ADULT SUPERVISION OR INTERVENTION THE MOST DANGEROUS OF ALL COMBINATIONS FOR A YOUNG PERSON TO HAVE TO DEAL WITH ON THEIR OWN!!!!!!!!
    ALL OF OUR YOUNG LIVES IT WAS NEVER SPOKEN OF IN THE HOME THE TERRIBLE EFFECTS OF DRUG OR ALCOHOL ABUSE.,ONLY IN JUNIOR HIGFH DID WE GET A SMALL DOSE OF DRUGS ARE BAD AND UNPROTECTED SEX IS BAD BECAUSE YOU MIGHT GET A GIRL PREGNANT OR A DRIPPY DIEASE OR WARTS OR SOME OTHER REALLY GROSS STUFF YOU DO’NT WANT TO TALK OR EVEN REMEMBER IN TOO MUCH DETAIL!!!
    ANYWAYS THANKS TO LUCK AND A SUPERIOR BODY AND MIND I SURVIVED AND LEARNED THROUGH TRIAL AND ERROR AND A FEW BRAVE SOULS WHO DARED TO THINK FOR THEMSELVES AND TAUGHT US YOUNG PEOPLE THAT WE WOULD BE SAFER WITH MARIJUANA AND IF WE WERE GOING TO DRINK TO PLEASE STAY AT HOME WITH THEM OR FRIENDS UNTILL THE JUICE WORE OFF!!!
    A FEW VERY SIMPLE BUT EFFECTIVE METHODS NEED TO BE EMPLOYED WITH OUR YOUTH AND THAT IS TO STOP SUGAR COATING THEIR LIVES AND TO START WITH TELLING THEM THE TRUTH ABOUT THINGS IN LIFE AND WE MUST HURRY UP AND CHANGE THIS FOREVER PETER PAN LIFESTYLE WE HAVE INVENTED FOR OURSELVES SOON!!!
    AS EVIDENCED HERE WITH THIS GOVERNMENT LAKIE WE ARE STILL SUBJECT TO THIS PERPETUALIZATION OF THE STATUS QUO EVEN IN THE FACE OF THE FACTS AND THE SCIENCE BEHIND OUR HISTORICAL RECORDS DO NOT SWAY THESE ZELOTS WHO WOULD HAVE US BELIEVE THEIR MAN MADE WORLD”synthetic drugs” IS SOME HOW BETTER THAN THE ONE GOD GAVE US FROM THE START!!!!
    IT IS THESE PEOPLE THAT CLING TO THESE METHODS OF CONTROLING US AND WHERE WE SPEND OUR EFFORTS ARE THE REAL DANGER TO A FREE SOCIETY., PERIOD!!!!!!!
    THE PEOPLE ARE TIRED OF SEEING OUR SCIENCE AND OUR OWN EXPIERIANCES AND OUR HARD EARNED TAX DOLLARS BEING SPENT TO FURTHER THE EXPSPANSION OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AND THEIR DEMANDS UPON OUR LIFES WORK AND THRIFT TO BENIFFIT THE FEW ELITISTS AT THE TOP.

  8. Interested Observer on

    Please don’t promote violent ideas on this site, even in jest. It only fuels the narco-nazis’ paranoia. We are all frustrated by the glacial pace of change in drug policy but, violence only serves their ends, not ours.

    I believe old Gil personally knows the truth about drugs but, he is professionally prohibitted from voicing that truth. It’s the internal conflict between the known truth and the lies told which makes him look so unhappy but, he must think it’s worth the money they’re paying him – otherwise he wouldn’t do it. I know for a fact he’s not the only person in the world who does things he doesn’t like (or even believe in) because he’s getting paid to do it.

  9. Anonymous on

    He looks a bit constipated.

  10. Devil's Advocate on

    Mr. Tvert’s message to the “czar” is a bold piece of literature. It takes a brave man to poke the lion with a stick in it’s den.

  11. Anonymous on

    Someone put a bullet in this mans head. Then ask him how dangerous he thinks cannabis is.

  12. Anonymous on

    Marijuana promotes peace, Drug wars are fueled by violence and bad policy. Government politicians and scientists have known decades if not centuries, that cannabis is a extremely useful substance, both medically and industrially. The big oil companies would lose market dominance. You cant spread the wealth around to the people, that would be down right democratic.

  13. Mr Salas on

    There are just so many hypocrisies in prohibition. I am a normal marijuana consumer. I do not use it for medical value unless I say its to relieve stress. However, to say that it has no medical value its absolutely absurd. Ask a Doctor. Ask a Medical patient of Cancer treatments or Multiple Sclerosis who have tried Marijuana as an alternative to prescriptions. Anyone who does real research, marijuana user or not, will unveil the blatant lies and unsupported data that is claimed by our Government. Politicians and bureaucrats shouldn’t decide what medicines we use. Doctors should. Furthermore, The Government shouldn’t decide against what the people are wanting. Legalize It.

  14. Anonymous on

    true. if he isn’t where he wanted to be by now, he’s never gonna stop lying.

  15. Anonymous on

    lol. he looks that way more and more each month.
    he was painted as pro-pot to sucker those who were tricked into supporting Obama the same way into supporting his appointment. then he started coming out with all these “not in the president’s vocabulary,” “no accepted medical value,” and now it’s “a non-starter.”
    I think it came about either a) lobbyists have managed to threaten and intimidate him, or b) he is sick of getting letters, phone calls, and e-mail messages filled with righteous indignation.
    The conspiracy theorist in me wants to believe he is a good man who has been told he could die for having principles, but that doesn’t quite fit with the time-line of the shift in his official opinion. I think he’s just a dick and we’re making him suffer.

    Frankly, that is the way we should want our drug czars to look, FUCKING UN-HAPPY. Let him stay that way.

  16. Anonymous on

    this guy is so back n forth its A fucking mind scheme one day his comments could be read as pro marijuana the next day he is anti! althought he is the best drug czar in quite the couple of years mind you anyone is better than JOHN WALTERS that fucking douche mind you GIL hasent had alot of time to prove his side of things either. A report dealing with police and lieing shows that the higher up a police officer is the more he has lied to get there!! so GILY have u lied all your life to get to where u ARE??? tell me its about time u told the truth once and for all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  17. Anonymous on

    Why are the people opposing legalization the only ones that manage to actually publish pictures of themselves with the opposite of a smile?

    Not often do people look so sour!!

  18. Anonymous on

    DAMN this man is stupid. He’s working against the clock!

    Time for the US to correct the damn wrong policy they forced upon Europe!!!