#449 Just Say No To The Drug Czars

Date: Wed, 25 Aug 2010
Subject: #449 Just Say No To The Drug Czars



DrugSense FOCUS Alert #449 – Wednesday, August 25nd, 2010

Today the Los Angeles Times printed the opinion of drug czars, past
and present.

As drug czars are required to do by law they selected their “facts”
for their propaganda effect.

Your letters to the editor will let the newspaper know that there are
other valid views.

Proposition 19 news clippings may be found at http://www.mapinc.org/topic/Proposition+19

Please note the new Proposition 19 website at http://yeson19.com/ –
and please do whatever you can to support the effort.


Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)

Page: A17

Copyright: 2010 Los Angeles Times

Contact: http://mapinc.org/url/bc7El3Yo

Authors: Gil Kerlikowske, John Walters, Barry McCaffrey, Lee Brown,
Bob Martinez, William Bennett

Note: This commentary was written by Gil Kerlikowske, John Walters,
Barry McCaffrey, Lee Brown, Bob Martinez and William Bennett,
directors of the Office of National Drug Control Policy in the
administrations of Presidents Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and
George H.W. Bush.


Legalizing Marijuana Through Prop. 19 Would Only Add to the State’s

Californians will face an important decision in November when they
vote on whether to legalize marijuana. Proponents of Proposition 19,
the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010, rely on two main
arguments: that legalizing and taxing marijuana would generate
much-needed revenue, and that legalization would allow law enforcement
to focus on other crimes. As experts in the field of drug policy,
policing, prevention, education and treatment, we can report that
neither of these claims withstand scrutiny.

No country in the world has legalized marijuana to the extent
envisioned by Proposition 19, so it is impossible to predict precisely
the consequences of wholesale legalization. We can say with near
certainty, however, that marijuana use would increase if it were
legal, because some people now abstain simply because it is illegal.

We also know that increased use brings increased social

Proponents of marijuana legalization often point to Amsterdam’s
“coffee shop” marijuana sales, rarely mentioning that the Dutch have
dramatically reduced what at one time were thousands of shops to only
a few hundred — after being inundated with “drug tourists,”
drug-related organized crime involvement and public nuisance problems.
During the period of marijuana commercialization and expansion, there
was a tripling of lifetime use rates and a more than doubling of
past-month use among 18- to 20-year-olds, according to independent

Closer to home, in a nationally representative roadside survey, the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that 8% of
nighttime weekend drivers tested positive for marijuana. The vast
majority were tested using an oral swab procedure that makes it highly
unlikely that the use occurred more than four hours prior.

A 2004 meta-analysis published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Review
of studies conducted in several localities showed that between 4% and
14% of drivers who sustained injuries or died in traffic accidents
tested positive for delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the active
ingredient in marijuana. Because marijuana negatively affects drivers’
judgment, motor skills and reaction time, it stands to reason that
legalizing marijuana would lead to more accidents and fatalities
involving drivers under its influence.

Regarding the supposed economic benefits of taxing marijuana, some
comparison with two drugs that are already regulated and taxed —
alcohol and tobacco — is worth considering. People don’t typically
grow their own tobacco or distill their own spirits, so consumers
accept high taxes on them as retail products. Marijuana, though, is
easy and cheap to cultivate, indoors or out, and Proposition 19 would
allow individuals to grow as much as 25 square feet of marijuana for
“personal consumption.”

Why would people volunteer to pay high taxes on marijuana if it were
legalized? The answer is that many would not, and the underground
market, adapting to undercut any new taxes, would barely diminish at

The current healthcare and criminal justice costs associated with
alcohol and tobacco far surpass the tax revenue they generate, and
very little of the taxes collected on these substances is contributed
to offsetting their substantial social and health costs. For every
dollar society collects in taxes on alcohol, for example, we end up
spending eight more in social costs. That is hardly a recipe for
fiscal health.

A recent Rand Corp. report, “Altered State,” found that it is
difficult to predict estimated revenue from marijuana taxes, and that
legalization would increase consumption but could also lead to
widespread tax evasion and a “race to the bottom” in terms of local
tax rates.

Another pro-legalization argument is that it would free up law
enforcement resources to concentrate on “real” crimes. Two of us are
former police chiefs, who in our combined careers protected five of
America’s largest cities, including New York, Houston and Seattle, and
served as elected heads of the nation’s largest professional police
associations. We interacted with tens of thousands of officers, and it
is our experience that an overwhelming majority of police
professionals does not support legalizing marijuana.

Law enforcement officers do not currently focus much effort on
arresting adults whose only crime is possessing small amounts of
marijuana. This proposition would burden them with new and complicated
enforcement duties. The proposition would require officers to enforce
laws against “ingesting or smoking marijuana while minors are
present.” Would this apply in a private home? And is a minor “present”
if they are 15 feet away, or 20? Perhaps California law enforcement
officers will be required to carry tape measures next to their handcuffs.

As should be evident, despite the millions spent on marketing the
idea, legalized marijuana can’t solve California’s budget crisis or
reduce criminal justice costs. Our combined opposition to this
ill-considered scheme spans four different administrations and
represents the collective wisdom of a former secretary of Education, a
governor, a mayor and teacher, an Army general, a drug policy
researcher and two police chiefs. Our opposition to legalizing
marijuana is grounded not in ideology but in facts and experience.


Suggestions for writing letters are at our Media Activism Center

For the latest facts about marijuana please see http://www.drugwarfacts.org/cms/node/53


Prepared by: Richard Lake, Focus Alert Specialist