U.S.: Obama's Drug Czar Condemns Marijuana Legalization
By Steve Elliott
Surprise, surprise -- Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske really hates marijuana legalization.
Kerlikowske, President Obama's drug czar, spoke out this week against recently passed state laws in Colorado and Washington which legalized the possession of limited amounts of marijuana by adults 21 and older. As director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), Kerlikowske is required by law to oppose cannabis legalization.
The Drug Czar said the Obama Administration doesn't plan on honoring the new state laws that allow adults in Colorado and Washington to legally use pot, reports RT.com. Last year, voters in both states passed separate laws allowing residents and visitors over 21 to legally have up to an ounce of marijuana.
But despite those laws, both of which overwhelmingly passed with about 55 percent of the vote, Kerlikowske said the Administration will continue to enforce the federal Uniform Controlled Substances Act, under which marijuana is listed as a Schedule I narcotic along with heroin and PCP. Even methamphetamine and cocaine are considered safer drugs than cannabis under the UCSA; both of those substances are classified as Schedule II, by definition safer than marijuana.
"No state, no executive can nullify a statute that has been passed by Congress," blustered Kerlikowske at a National Press Club luncheon on Wednesday, reports Agence France-Presse. "Let's be clear: law enforcement officers take an oath of office to uphold federal law and they are going to continue to pursue drug traffickings and drug dealers."
"Neither a state nor the executive branch can nullify a statute passed by Congress ... Nor should we lose sight of the fundamental fact that using marijuana has public health consequences, and the most responsible public policy is one that restricts its availability and discourages its use," Kerlikowske claimed, reports The Huffington Post.
"Regardless of any changes in state law, including the change that will go into effect on December 6 in Washington state, growing, selling or possessing any amount of marijuana remains illegal under federal law," said Jenny Durkan, U.S. Attorney for Western Washington, after legalization measure I-502 was approved by state voters last November.
Under current federal law, first-time offenders caught possessing any amount of cannabis can be fined $1,000 and sentenced to a year in federal prison. Repeat offenders face penalties of three years in prison and fines of up to $5,000.
(Photo of Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske by LIFE Magazine)