Washington and Colorado are pioneers in a growing trend toward legalization of marijuana in the United States, but they will continue to be opposed by the federal War on Drugs. Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, maintained opposition to marijuana legalization in a recent interview with Canadian current affairs magazine, Maclean’s. It seems the Drug Czar does not intend to allow Colorado and Washington to go unmolested.
After the November elections, President Obama claimed that marijuana users in the states where it became legal will not be a “top priority” for federal resources. That is a very grey statement that does nothing to ease anyone’s concerns.
“We’ve got bigger fish to fry … It would not make sense for us to see a top priority as going after recreational users in states that have determined that it’s legal.
This is a tough problem, because Congress has not yet changed the law. I head up the executive branch; we’re supposed to be carrying out laws. And so what we’re going to need to have is a conversation about, How do you reconcile a federal law that still says marijuana is a federal offense and state laws that say that it’s legal?”
How do you reconcile a federal law that still says marijuana is a federal offense and state laws that say that it’s legal? Well, you could concede to the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.
The Constitution doesn’t give the federal government any control over drugs or plants, but the federal government has decided to classify a safe, useful plant as a drug, regardless. The states (CO and WA) and the people in those states made a decision. That decision is their right to make under the Tenth Amendment. That’s how easily this whole quagmire can be reconciled.
Gil Kerlikowske clarified in his interview with Maclean’s how they plan to continue to make the problem worse instead of working on plausible solutions.
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.
The “limited resources” he refers to is still a lot of money wasted that could be spent on the welfare of the people. As of this writing $2,022,522,079 has gone toward the drug war in this year alone, which has only been a month and a half. Drugsense.org keeps up-to-the-minute counts of how much money is spent fighting drugs.
When talking of the dangers of drugs, there isn’t much to say about marijuana. It doesn’t cause any health issues, to speak of, so Kerlikowske doesn’t. Instead he uses the generic word ‘drugs’ or shifts the conversation to opiates and other commercially available prescription medication, which is a different matter altogether. This interview does nothing except to prove that the U.S. government has no intentions of opening an honest debate on the subject anytime soon.