Marijuana and Cannabis News

Drug Czar Sends Mixed Messages On Marijuana Policy
By Steve Elliott ~alapoet~ in News
Thursday, September 8, 2011 at 11:00 am
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LIFE
Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske claimed on Thursday that the regulation of alcohol, tobacco and prescription drugs has not worked, so regulation of marijuana could not be expected to work, either
The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) on Thursday announced the latest results of the annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health. As is their annual custom, the federal officials used the event -- and the survey itself -- as an opportunity to decry the use of marijuana in the United States.

"What we saw today was just more of the same stale old rhetoric and exaggerations about marijuana use," said Morgan Fox, communications manager for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "The analysis SAMHSA included with the National Survey on Drug Use and Health seeks to blame what they claim is a significant increase in teen marijuana use on relaxed perceptions of harm, caused by the ongoing discussion of marijuana reform, particularly medical marijuana.

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Photo: MPP
Morgan Fox, MPP: "We must ask how he can justify the billions of dollars spent every year to arrest, prosecute, and incarcerate marijuana users"
​"They do not quantitatively support these claims, however, and we can see from this latest report that past-month marijuana use by 12-17 year olds has stayed the same for males and increased by .1 percent in the past year for females," Fox said. "In addition, this report and other available data clearly show that in a majority of medical marijuana states, teen use rates actually decreased since the implementation of their medical marijuana programs."

"On the other hand, we were encouraged by ONDCP Director Gil Kerlikowske's acknowledgment today that we cannot arrest our way out our nation's drug problem," Fox said. "But if that is the case, we must ask how he can justify the billions of dollars spent every year to arrest, prosecute, and incarcerate marijuana users, when that money could be better spent on proven harm reduction tools such as those highlighted by the Recovery Month program."

SAMHSA administrator Pamela S. Hyde, when questioned as to why alcohol use rates had dropped so much more than other drugs, said that a more comprehensive program of education and early intervention had been used to combat alcohol abuse and that such programs had not been embraced for other drug use.

Moments later, Steve Fox, MPP director of government relations, asked Kerlikowske if such a program of regulation and education would be better than the current system of prohibition for marijuana. Director Kerlikowske replied that the regulation of alcohol, tobacco and prescription drugs has not worked, so regulation of marijuana could not be expected to work, either.

"Such contradictory statements from the people in charge of our national drug policies only go to show that our government officials are addicted to prohibition, do not think states are capable of determining their own drug policies, and are incapable of even correctly analyzing their own data," said Morgan Fox.

For more information on teen cannabis use in medical marijuana states, see MPP's Teen Use Report, available by clicking here.

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