President Barack Obama’s drug czar this week exhaled a puff of protest at the White House’s laid-back attitude about the spreading conflict between federal drug laws and newly relaxed state laws on marijuana.
“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,” Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, told a Canadian magazine, who also indicated his opposition to the state decriminalization laws.
“I think a patchwork of policies would create real difficulties,” he said in the article, which was published online on Monday. “This is a public health issue. … I don’t see the legalization of drugs and making them widely available as a good thing, and I don’t think locking everyone up is a good thing, either.”
Over the last several years, several states — including California, Colorado and Washington state — have rolled back penalties for marijuana possession. (RELATED: Colorado law enforcement struggles with realities of legalized pot)
Kerlikowske’s criticism of Obama’s administration is mild but remarkable, because Obama’s deputies rarely openly criticize their boss on the record.
Obama has tried to ignore the drug-law conflicts, even as the nation’s uniform federal drugs laws have been converted into a national patchwork, with a series of states allowing what federal law forbids. He has continued federal prosecutions of marijuana drug possession.
In high school and college, Obama used marijuana. He and a group of drug-using friends in Hawaii described themselves “The Choom Gang.”