The drug war is over, everyone, because that's what the White House told us in May last year.
So will you please ignore this editorial in the LA Times this week, featuring White House Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske, the former Seattle Police Chief, making the case that voters should reject Prop 19 and keep locking up 74,000 people for marijuana each year. The logic spans from puzzling to embarrassing to bizarre.
Joined by a handful of past drug czars, Kerlikowske writes, "Law enforcement officers do not currently focus much effort on arresting adults whose only crime is possessing small amounts of marijuana," which is another way of saying that enforcement has been such an utter failure that they don't even try anymore. Also, ignore those 74,000 pot arrests each year. (Firedoglake picks over the steaming pile and untwists the tortured logic.)
You've got hand it to these guys—the Obama Administration, mostly—for pushing some pretty hilarious arguments. For instance, they lead off the entire article by trying to refute claims that removing pot penalties and allowing local jurisdictions to tax and regulate pot will save police resources and raise revenue. Why are they so certain?
Because they are "experts in the field of drug policy, policing, prevention, education and treatment."
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Hah!
The men behind the one of the most colossal policy failures in recent American history—expensive, ineffective, making the problems it attempts to solve worse—are experts! In creating laws that don't work. If these people were your waiters telling you get the fish, you'd order the beef.
Okay, last absurd thing that fell out of their 1986 Nancy Reagan machine is the claim that pot—just say no!—is magically different from every other commodity:
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 all.
I could raise chickens and have fresh eggs every morning, because they are easy and cheap to cultivate. But I buy them. I could grow sweet, ripe, red tomatoes—also "easy and cheap to cultivate, indoors or out"—but I don't. I buy them. Same goes for lettuce, wine, and lots of other things I am technically capable of making. But we had this wacky agricultural revolution a while back, and, frankly, I don't want to be a farmer. And thanks to these recent advancements, I don't have to be. And anyone who thinks that growing marijuana isn't laborious, dirty farming hasn't tried it.
In other news, I was wrong about Kerlokowske holding back from campaigning. Also, he's is a lying sack of shit. He can't claim the drug war is over and then crusade to lock up people for pot.