President Obama’s drug czar told a Canadian magazine recently that the federal government would still go after marijuana growers and distributors, despite the recent ballot initiatives that decriminalized marijuana usage in those states.
Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, said he opposed state-based efforts to legalize marijuana.
“I think a patchwork of policies would create real difficulties,” he said in an interview with Maclean’s. “I don’t see the legalization of drugs and making them widely available as a good thing.”
When asked whether drug legalization was similar to gay marriage—in that many states were passing laws in favor of it, despite continued federal opposition—Kerlikowske replied that the two issues have nothing in common.
“I don’t look at marijuana as a human right, or a civil right, or even in the same venue as gay marriage,” he said. “This is a public health issue.”
Proponents of marijuana legalization argued that Colorado and Washington are doing everything they can to respect federal law while still asserting their right to treat marijuana similarly to alcohol.
“The question is whether federal officials want these states to regulate marijuana sales and bring them above board, or keep them in the underground market where they are controlled by the cartels,” wrote Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project, in an email to The Daily Caller News Foundation. “We are hopeful [federal officials] will see the benefits of regulating marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol, and we are pleased to see the progress these two states are making toward doing just that.”
Even the president knows that policing recreational marijuana use is a waste of time and money, said Tvert.
“As President Obama has said, the federal government does not have the time and resources to go after adult marijuana consumers,” he wrote.
Public support for relaxing marijuana laws is at an all-time high. A majority of Americans believe states have the right to legalize pot without federal interference.
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