OBAMA IS AWOL IN THE DRUG WARS
By Cliff Kincaid
March 18, 2010
On March 1, Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance had expressed pleasure that “Obama and his Drug Czar, Gil, have made it clear that they don’t want to talk about marijuana at all.” Nadelmann considered the silence to mean assent to his agenda of marijuana decriminalization and legalization. But just three days later, in a dramatic development, Gil Kerlikowske, the director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), came out in strong opposition to almost everything that Nadelmann and his “progressive” backers represent.
In a major speech on March 4, Kerlikowske denounced the use of marijuana, including its “medical” version, and cited facts and studies linking the weed to all kinds of health problems. “The concern with marijuana is not born out of any culture-war mentality, but out of what the science tells us about the drug’s effects,” he said. “And the science, though still evolving, is clear: marijuana use is harmful. It is associated with dependence, respiratory and mental illness, poor motor performance, and cognitive impairment, among other negative effects.”
This has to be perceived as a tremendous setback for Nadelmann and the rich liberals, led by George Soros and Peter Lewis, who have financed the drug legalization and “medical marijuana” movements. The Kerlikowske speech constitutes belated recognition that the drug wars south of the border are inexorably linked to the growing use of marijuana in California, where some of the same Mexican drug gangs are planting and harvesting their crop.
A report, Organized Crime in California Annual Report 2007-08, prepared by the California Department of Justice, states that “Mexican drug trafficking organizations [DTOs] command a large portion of the illegal drug trade in California.” Those DTOs, which “dominate the outdoor cultivation of marijuana in California,” are, in turn, linked to criminal street gangs and organized crime groups.
Maryland Considers Pro-pot Bill
Despite the wake-up call from Obama’s own Drug Czar, the well-financed movement to legalize dope continues on many fronts. On Thursday, March 18, Joyce Nalepka, former President of Nancy Reagan’s favorite charity, the National Federation of Parents for Drug-Free Youth, will testify in hearings before the Maryland State Legislature in Annapolis. She says that Maryland Senate Bill SB 627 would allow use of marijuana under the guise of “medicine.”
Thursday will mark the ninth time Nalepka has testified on this issue in Maryland. “There is nothing new to say, except the marijuana that kids are using today is so much more potent, they refer to it as ‘Skunk.’ Eighteen nations, including the U.S., now link ‘Skunk’ marijuana to depression, psychosis and schizophrenia,” she says.
On the national level, supported by Soros and Lewis, then-candidate Barack Obama adopted the soft-on-drugs approach. As President, his Attorney General Eric Holder decided to withhold federal resources from the war on drugs in California, at least as they apply to the growing “medical marijuana” program. But that was before a psychotic pothead named John Patrick Bedell came all the way from California with a “medical marijuana” card and opened fire on the entrance to the Pentagon, wounding two guards before getting killed himself.
Ironically, on the same day that Bedell was preparing his assault, Kerlikowske was getting ready to speak to the California Police Chiefs Association Conference in San Jose, California. His topic: “Why Marijuana Legalization Would Compromise Public Health and Public Safety.” The speech was so powerful, in terms of the facts he presented about the problems associated with marijuana, including “medical marijuana,” that it is somewhat shocking to consider that he has a job in the Obama Administration.
The editorial board of the Christian Science Monitor was pleasantly surprised, saying that “The Obama White House has finally laid out its most thorough, reasoned rebuttal to arguments for marijuana legalization—countering a campaign that is gaining alarming momentum at the state level.” Its editorial headline highlighted that this position had “finally” been articulated, reflecting frustration with the silence and confusion on the matter of drug legalization coming from the Obama Administration.
The editorial referred to the “well-financed, well-organized pro-marijuana effort,” without noting that billionaires Soros and Lewis, major Democratic Party donors, are behind it.
Obama should be asked at his next news conference, when and if he ever holds one, if he agrees with his Drug Czar about the dangers of dope, which he smoked as a young man, along with snorting cocaine.
But the President has apparently been too busy with national health care legislation to take an interest in the health impact of illegal drugs and the drug wars that are resulting in part from its cultivation and use in the “Golden State.”
Pot Linked to Mental Problems
In its editorial, “Marijuana legalization? A White House rebuttal, finally,” The Christian Science Monitor made prominent mention of John Patrick Bedell’s marijuana use and mental problems, which gave urgency to Kerlikowske’s remarks. It said, “The recent ‘Pentagon shooter,’ John Patrick Bedell, was a heavy marijuana user. The disturbed young man’s psychiatrist told the Associated Press that marijuana made the symptoms of his mental illness more pronounced.”
There is a contrast, as noted by the publication, between Kerlikowske’s tough talk to the California police chiefs and the Holder policy of withdrawing from a big part of the war on drugs in California. Attorney General Holder insists that the Department of Justice just doesn’t have the “resources” to do anything about the “medical marijuana” problem.
Kerlikowske alluded to “the problems associated with medical marijuana dispensaries,” where people get their dope with the simple approval of a pro-pot doctor, and said that “We’ve seen the problems of medical marijuana here in this state but also in places like Colorado, too, where kids are given the message that since marijuana is a medicine, it must be safe.”
Although he failed to say anything about the Administration having basically given up on doing anything about those dispensaries, his comments have put him on a collision course with Holder and perhaps Obama himself.
In California, anti-drug activists are examining what can be done about the pro-pot doctors behind the “medical marijuana” scam.
As the Christian Science Monitor pointed out, some of the best material in the speech came in a jam-packed footnote. The paper said, “As Kerlikowske pointed out, marijuana is harmful—and he has the studies to back it up. Read the footnotes in his speech; they’re sobering, especially No. 8.” That footnote describes the scientific studies linking marijuana to respiratory illnesses, lung injury, and mental illness, including psychosis.
Little did Kerlikowske know that, as he was speaking to the police chiefs, a crazed California pothead was on his way to try to kill people at the Pentagon because he thought the U.S. military was involved in a conspiracy of some sort. Of course, this is just one aspect of the mental problems associated with marijuana use. Simply put, the weed reduces the ability of people to think and act clearly.
On the matter of why drug legalization will increase and not solve any marijuana-related problems, Kerlikowske said that “it is clear that the social costs of legalizing marijuana would outweigh any possible tax that could be levied. In the United States, illegal drugs already cost $180 billion a year in health care, lost productivity, crime, and other expenditures. That number would only increase under legalization because of increased use.”
Regarding the claim that legalization would eliminate the black market, reduce crime and strike a blow against the drug trafficking organizations, he explained that the evidence indicates that there would still be a “profit motive for the existing black market providers to stay in the market, as they can still cover their costs of production and make a nice profit.” As a result, he noted, legalization would “saddle government with the dual burden of regulating a new legal market while continuing to pay for the negative side effects associated with an underground market whose providers have little economic incentive to disappear.”
In practical terms, he added, “Legalization means the price comes down, the number of users goes up, the underground market adapts, and the revenue gained through a regulated market will never keep pace with the financial and social cost of making this drug more accessible.”
Now Under Attack
Predictably, Kerlikowske is being attacked by the illegal drug lobby. The Peter Lewis-funded Marijuana Policy Project called his speech “supremely uneducated.”
Like John Patrick Bedell, the potheads won’t rest until society recognizes their right to smoke, grow and even worship pot. Do they have an ally in President Obama? “Yes we Cannabis!” they say.
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But the public, concerned about a generation literally going to pot under a President who inhaled and liked it, may have something to say about that.
With all the criticism of Obama’s various “Czars,” at least one of them, Gil Kerlikowske, has taken a bold stand that is out of step with what Obama’s “progressive” base has been demanding. It will be interesting to see how long he lasts.
© 2010 Cliff Kincaid - All Rights Reserved
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Cliff Kincaid, a veteran journalist and media critic, Cliff concentrated in journalism and communications at the University of Toledo, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree.
Cliff has written or co-authored nine books on media and cultural affairs and foreign policy issues. One of Cliff's books, "Global Bondage: The UN Plan to Rule the World" is still awailable.
Cliff has appeared on Hannity & Colmes, The O’Reilly Factor, Crossfire and has been published in the Washington Post, Washington Times, Chronicles, Human Events and Insight.