US Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske, a former police chief, is known for taking a hard stance against marijuana. Recently, he was interviewed by Maclean’s, a Canadian news website, and the focus of the interview was American’s position on drugs, primarily marijuana.
During the interview, Kerlikowske made a number of statements that can be described as confusing, to say the least.
Kerlikowske spent a significant amount of time discussing the dangers of prescription drug abuse, stating, “More people are dying of prescription drug abuse than heroin and cocaine combined.” However, he then continued to explain that prescription drug abuse is the United States’ biggest drug problem… after marijuana. Even though no one has ever overdosed on marijuana, Kerlikowske saw it fit to label it as the country’s largest drug issue.
Another confusing claim that Kerlikowske made is essentially that marijuana should not be legalized because alcohol already presents so many issues for the country. He explained, “We arrest about 2.4 million people in this country a year for alcohol. We arrest less than 700,000 people for marijuana—and for all drugs, only 1.3 million. Alcohol is perfectly legal. So making drugs available without any sanction would only lead to more abuse.”
When asked about legalization in Washington and Colorado, Kerlikowske explained that, “You’ll continue to see enforcement against distributors and large-scale growers as the Justice Department has outlined. They will use their limited resources on those groups and not on going after individual users.” This is the sentiment that the Obama Administration has continually expressed about both medical marijuana and legal recreational marijuana, but it is unclear how much they plan to step in in Washington and Colorado.
While many of Kerlikowske’s opinions expressed during the interview do not seem to be the most logical, the US Drug Czar is confident that the US is taking the right approach to controlling marijuana and other drugs.
You can read the entire interview at Maclean’s.