Former U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders said Sunday that she supports legalizing marijuana.
“What I think is horrible about all of this, is that we criminalize young people,” Elders said, reports CNN. “And we use so many of our excellent resources… for things that aren’t really causing any problems.”
Californians vote in two weeks on Proposition 19, a ballot initiative to legalize, regulate and tax cannabis. The measure would effectively legalize adult recreational marijuana use in the state, though federal officials including Attorney General Eric Holder have claimed they would continue to enforce marijuana laws in California even if voters approve the initiative.
|Former Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders: “It’s not a toxic substance”|
”It’s not a toxic substance,” Elders said.
Supporters of Prop 19 say it would raise revenue and cut the cost of enforcement, while opponents claim — without proof — that pot has “harmful side effects.”
Federal agents would continue to enforce federal marijuana laws, Atty. Gen. Holder said Friday. If Prop 19 passed, it would be a major stumbling block to federal partnerships with state and local authorities in marijuana enforcement, according to Holder.
Translation: Those big federal grants for “pot eradication” would dry up. It’s all about the money, as usual.
Holder’s Friday statement was a response to an August letter from several former directors of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), urging the White House to block implementation of Prop 19 if voters approve it next month.
Elders, however, stressed that cannabis is not physically addictive and pointed to the damage caused by alcohol, which is legal.
“We have the highest number of people in the world being criminalized, many for non-violent crimes related to marijuana,” Elders said. “We can use our resources so much better.”