Newly confirmed drug czar Gil Kerlikowske was interviewed on KUOW this week. Pete at Drug WarRant has a post up with excerpts from the interview. Here’s one Q&A that was reminiscent of drug czars past:
Q: Marijuana. Do you support legalization of marijuana?
Q: And why is that?
Kerlikowske: It’s a dangerous drug.
Q: Now, why is it a dangerous drug?
Kerlikowske: It is a dangerous drug. There are numbers of calls to hotlines for people requesting help from marijuana. A number of people that have been arrested, and we test people and have data on this, that are arrested throughout the country, come in to the system with marijuana in their system, as arrests.
One of the reasons why people have been optimistic about Kerlikowske’s appointment is because he was the police chief in a city that tolerated the annual Hempfest gathering. At Hempfest, hundreds of thousands of people gather in a park near downtown Seattle, many of whom use marijuana while they’re there, and yet bad things almost never happen. People listen to music, they discuss drug law reform, they buy bongs, they hang out on the rocks along the Sound, and they happily mingle among the Seattle Police officers on duty for the event.
If marijuana were such a dangerous drug, how would that even be possible? I’ve been to 5 Hempfests so far, and I haven’t seen so much as an argument, let alone a fight or some other incident (ok, I’ve seen arguments in the Hemposium tent, but those are over politics).
I understand that Seattle is a bit more progressive on this when compared to the rest of the country (although you wouldn’t know it by looking at the state legislature), but that’s not an excuse for Kerlikowske to lie. As the police chief who sent his officers to 8 Hempfests, he knows full-well that marijuana is no more dangerous a drug than alcohol. In fact, I dare him to find any of his former officers who says they’d rather be assigned to keep the peace at an event the size of Hempfest where people were consuming alcohol instead.