Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly made headlines for his comments on Sunday’s Meet the Press, when he pronounced that marijuana is “not a factor” in the War on Drugs and that solving the nation’s drug problem does not involve “arresting a lot of users.”
Hmm… since when?
If memory serves, the U.S. government has been at war with weed since the 1930s.
Just two days ago, a local public radio station ran an interesting story on the topic:
“The origins of the seemingly eternal War on Drugs can be traced back to one man: Harry Anslinger, the first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. Beginning in 1930s, when America’s attitudes on opioids, cocaine and marijuana were less vitriolic, Anslinger argued for total drug prohibition and severe punishment for offenders.”
And that “severe punishment” for pot offenders is still going strong.
“Most of these people [pot prisoners] have been locked up for decades,” according to the Cann-Do Foundation, whose mission is to help the hundreds of thousands of non-violent pot prisoners rotting in U.S. jail cells.
In discussing how to stop the flow of drugs and immigrants into the United States from Central America and Mexico, Meet the Press host Chuck Todd asked Kelly whether legalizing marijuana would help or hurt his work.
“Yeah, marijuana is not a factor in the drug war,” Kelly responded, then later added: “It’s three things. Methamphetamine. Almost all produced in Mexico. Heroin. Virtually all produced in Mexico. And cocaine that comes up from further south.”
Kelly also stated that in 2015, those three drugs—plus opiates—were responsible for the deaths of 52,000 people in the United States and cost the country $250 billion.
Where he came up with that figure and why he did not acknowledge the extremely high number of arrests and prison sentences for marijuana possession—justified under the War on Drugs—is beyond anyone who has access to the Internet and/or half a brain.
The number of arrests for marijuana in 2015, according to the Drug Policy Alliance, was 643,121.
Of that number, 574,641 of those charged were arrested for possession only—fully 89 percent!
Hence, to say that marijuana is not a factor in the drug war is wildly false and blatantly misleading.
If marijuana was not a major element in the War on Drugs, why are thousands of people behind bars, some for life, on non-violent weed charges?
So, in keeping with the rest of Trump’s cabinet and other leadership picks, the Department of Homeland Security Secretary doesn’t seem to have a clue about marijuana or the War on Drugs.