US Drug Czar Weighs in on Canada’s Pot Habit

Gil Kerlikowske is U.S. President Obama’s director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy—more commonly known as the U.S. “drug czar.” His long career in law enforcement included serving as police chief in two border cities: Buffalo and Seattle.

Q: In the November elections, two states—Washington and Colorado—voted to legalize marijuana for recreational use. President Obama has said that the U.S. government has “bigger fish to fry” than to go after recreational users in states where it is legal. Where do things stand with regard to producers and distributors of marijuana, which is still illegal under federal law?

A: You’ll continue to see enforcement against distributors and large-scale growers as the Justice Department has outlined. They will use their limited resources on those groups and not on going after individual users.

Q: You’ve written on the White House website that “coming out of the election, we are in the midst of a national conversation on marijuana.” Is the U.S. headed for a patchwork of policies, state by state?

A: I think a patchwork of policies would create real difficulties. We still have federal law that places marijuana as being illegal. The administration has not done a particularly good job of, one, talking about marijuana as a public health issue, and number two, talking about what can be done and where we should be headed on our drug policy.

Q: There was such an evolution on gay marriage within this administration that it’s hard not to think that something might change on marijuana.

A: I don’t look at marijuana as a human right, or a civil right, or even in the same venue as gay marriage. This is a public health issue. There are significant health concerns around marijuana from all the science, not ideology. I don’t see the legalization of drugs and making them widely available as a good thing, and I don’t think locking everyone up is a good thing either.

Q: When you took office in 2009 you said you wanted the Obama administration to drop the term “war on drugs.” Why?

A: It was mostly elected officials who would use “war on drugs.” But my colleagues—prosecutors, police chiefs, sheriffs, never really talked about it as a war on drugs—they would use the term “you can’t arrest your way out of this problem.” The “war on drugs” is a good bumper sticker, but we know that the drug problem is unbelievably complex. There is no bumper-sticker answer.

Q: Have you done more to deal with the medical side?

A: We helped shift federal funding so that more money has flowed into drug treatment and prevention programs. We have tried using the bully pulpit of the White House to talk about the disease of addiction and to talk about it in a public health model.

Q: What shaped your view in that direction?

A: I had been a narcotics detective and then a police chief in two large cities that had, like most of our large cities, a drug problem. We would regurgitate the same people through the system. They’d be arrested for crimes, but they’d have a drug problem. They’d go off to jail and then they’d be back. Often without treatment, without after-care, and unsurprisingly they’d be back into crime.

Q: So why not just treat drugs as a medical issue, the way alcohol abuse is treated. Why not just drop the criminalization?

A: We arrest about 2.4 million people in this country a year for alcohol. We arrest less than 700,000 people for marijuana—and for all drugs, only 1.3 million. Alcohol is perfectly legal. So making drugs available without any sanction would only lead to more abuse.

– Read the entire article at Maclean’s.

Comments

13 Comments

  1. Cliff on

    Gil is just like any other pig. He will lie, deceive and destroy anyone who stands in the way of his pay check.
    Freedom for cannabis users would mean we could lay-off many of the pigs. Obama is under pressure from pig lobbyist every day.
    The people of Canada want the same thing that the majority of Americans want, FREEDOM.
    The pig’s time is coming to an end. America is so far in debt that the war on freedom will have to end.

  2. Cliff on

    Gil is just like any other pig. He will lie, deceive and destroy anyone who stands in the way of his pay check.
    Freedom for cannabis users would mean we could lay-off many of the pigs. Obama is under pressure from pig lobbyist every day.
    The people of Canada want the same thing that the majority of Americans want, FREEDOM.
    The pig’s time is coming to an end. America is so far in debt that the war on freedom will have to end.

  3. gutrod on

    Are Americans better off than they were before Dickhead introduced the dirty war on drugs. I would bet that most Americans would say no unless they have secure jobs in law enforcement. The 60’s and 70’s were peaceful times although drugs ran rampant. Peace Bro!

  4. gutrod on

    Thanks for recognizing us up here and the contributions Marc has made for mankind. U R what is good about America. Gill and the American government are basically cement heads still living in the 20th century. I’m sure they are all paid handsomely to persecute their own tax paying citizens. We are not much better off up here under the current regime of Stephen Harper and his religious crusade. Governments need war to justify their own expenditures. I predict American’s next war will be right here in the America’s. Canada will participate. The blind leading the blind so to speak.
    Cheerz,
    Time to get a happy on.
    Cough! Cough!

  5. gutrod on

    Gill! Take a pill. After marijuana, we see prescription drugs as the next most significant drug problem we have. Limited resources. Come on. We all know that the American government has printed billions if not trillions of greenbacks to declare war on it’s own citizens and will continue to do so. It is win at all costs even though they know it is a war that will never be won. Basically a Stalemate! If marijuana were legal and the money were spent on treating addictions instead of incarceration America would be much safer and better place to live. Then they wouldn’t need all those guns to protect themselves from themselves.

  6. Anonymous on

    yes, but the question mentioned abuse, when it should have said use. if you got high and went out asking to be arrested thats different to staying home and having the door kicked in. bad choice of question wording is all, gave Gill an uphill start.

  7. Anonymouse on

    I am noticing the power of a person’s belief in one thing or another. It does not matter what they believe in, but the level of one’s belief can inhibit rational reasoning. We see this in religion, but can be dangerous when involved in politics. Politics should be about compromise and doing what is best for the republic. A politician’s beliefs can deter the best measures that provide for a better democracy.

    Kerlikowski is one of those believers that is incapable of seeing a world where cannabis is legal. His brain is incapable of recognizing the merits of legalization. He is stuck in his ways and is unable to change. The best we can hope for is that he retires or is replaced.

  8. bb54 on

    just fuck you sir its more the US that are creating problems to Canada,Go to hell !!!!!!!

  9. Mike hemshaw on

    I’m sick of my government trying to ban everything. Drugs should be legal. We have a Canadian national in a federal prison for selling seeds and it sickens me. patients are complaining that they’re pain isn’t controlled by the new oxycodone tabs and that they cost more. U.S. is now a giant prison state.

  10. Tony Aroma on

    The Drug Czar speaks only for the current administration. That’s his one and only job, to promote and defend the administration’s official drug policy. He’s a PR person, nothing more. He has no authority, and his only job requirement is to say what he’s told to say. He may or may not be a moron, we have no way of knowing since in public he never departs from the official script. No one will know his personal opinions as long as he holds that job. A job which he’s doing quite well, I might add. I know I couldn’t say the things he says and keep a straight face.

  11. Mrs. Ratsrectum on

    Gil never answered the patchwork question. The answer is yes. That’s what you have already. The feds are a drag on what’s trending with the American people. The real difficulties are only going to get worse. There’s going to be a Mid-Atlantic Conference, and it’s for deconstruction of Cannabis Prohibition. It’s deconstruction of this part of the violent hierarchy of real life, the U.S war on its own people, the war on (some) drugs.

    He doesn’t see marijuana as a human right or a civil right. Just as it’s a woman’s right to decide what happens to her own body concerning abortion, it is in fact a human right to decide to put something safer than alcohol into your own body.

    He uses the typical prohibitionist argument that lumps cannabis in with all other illegal drugs, casting aspersions and guilt by association with hard drugs. He said “I don’t see the legalization of drugs and making them widely available as a good thing, and I don’t think locking everyone up is a good thing either.”

    He must toe the prohibitionist line. Gil strikes me as the type who talks out of his ass like this while in office, but like former Latin American leaders and other high profile people will change his tune once he’s out of office, retired. For now, I’ll expect him to fulfill the mission of his office and keep talking shit.

    We’ll see what happens with federal funding on enforcing cannabis prohibition with the sequestration cuts that are inevitably coming. Obama must cut the U.S. deficit by 2016 according to the agreement reached in Toronto in 2010. You’ve got The Big Apple coming to its senses, and in March a Mid-Atlantic Conference on how to go about legalizing cannabis outright in the region.

    It doesn’t bode well for cannabis prohibition.

  12. Bhonze on

    This is total BS! He knows people who are arrested over alcohol are for crimes of public drunkenness, DUI, Manslaughter, molestation, domestic violence which none are related to Marijuana arrest. You get arrested for weed just because you have it. If it were legal there would be few arrest as a result! He is scum of the earth!

  13. Atlanta Toker on

    Id like to apologize for the United States Drug Czar moron who thinks Canada is a bad influence. He is definitely not speaking on behalf of more than half of this nation, and that’s a numerical fact. He is most definitely not speaking for the wonderful and courageous people of Washington and Colorado.

    I prefer to think of Canadians as the freedom and liberty lovers that remind us Americans of what we use to be and should be striving to be once again.

    Please ignore any other verbiage uttered from the morons in Washington D.C.. They are incredibly stupid and are still trying to legislate morality by incarcerating Americans at a rate of one every 37 seconds for an immoral war waged on the people of America by both the Republican and Democratic parties for the past 40 years thanks to Richard M Nixon.

    A truly and factual dishonest and disgraced criminal from the presidency of the United States government who had to be pardoned for his criminal behavior. These are the same people that are still in charge of the government in the USA today.

    Nothing further need be said…