Marijuana: Obama administration has done poor job of talking about drug policy, czar says
Just over two months since the signing of Amendment 64, a direct challenge to federal marijuana policy, the Obama administration still has provided no guidance to Colorado about whether a challenge to the law is forthcoming. As a result, observers searching for clues about the feds' thinking are left to read tea leaves -- or analyze comments from officials like U.S. drug czar Gil Kerlikowske. But do remarks published this week suggest a softer line on the pot question? One marijuana advocate has some ideas about that.
This week, MacLean's, a Canadian magazine and news site, published a sprawling Q&A with Kerlikowske. Naturally, issues in Canada take up a considerable portion of the conversation, but many of them can be applied to situations in Colorado. Consider the following exchange about whether visitors with marijuana on their mind are a good or bad thing:
As this response indicates, Kerlikowske hardly comes across as a pot cheerleader in the piece. He rejects the suggestion that Obama's evolution on the subject of gay marriage might portend a similar shift when it comes to weed ("I don't look at marijuana as a human right, or a civil right, or even in the same venue as gay marriage," he says), portrays decriminalization as a guarantor of more problems, and stresses that "you'll continue to see enforcement against distributors and large-scale growers as the Justice Department has outlined."
Q: In Canada, a large party of Liberal party delegates voted in favour of marijuana legalization. The party issued a report speculating that thousands of Canadians could find employment related to marijuana and pot tourism -- as Americans would flock north. What do you make of that?
A screen capture from the MacLean's interview with Gil Kerlikowske.
A: Well, I think of the experience of the Netherlands -- they've had marijuana cafés for decades and in the last few years the government decided to close hundreds. One of the primary reasons they cite is marijuana tourism -- people coming in from Germany, Belgium and other places have caused crime problems and other difficulties.
Still, one sentence spoken by Kerlikowske jumps out to Tom Angell, chairman of the organization Marijuana Majority and a close follower of events in Colorado. At one point, he says, "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."
Continue for more of our post about U.S. drug czar Gil Kerlikowske.