Drug Law

Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske Struggles With Big Words. Again.

| by Marijuana Policy Project

Drug czar Gil Kerlikowske has stated on many occasions that his vocabulary does not include the word “legalization.” Now today, we learn that our nation’s top drug warrior doesn’t know the meaning of the word “prohibition” either.

Sadly, I’m not making this up.

In an online video interview today with the Washington Post, Kerlikowske says the Obama administration is “very much opposed” to taxing and regulating marijuana because—get this—he says the taxes paid on alcohol do not make up for the “criminal justice, health care, [and] social costs” of alcohol consumption. Oh, and he just assumes taxes on marijuana wouldn’t either, though he doesn’t bother to mention the billions of dollars we could save on law enforcement, prison, judicial and environmental costs by calling for an end to the futile and unwinnable war the government wages against our country’s largest cash crop and the millions of otherwise law-abiding Americans who use it.

This bizarre answer prompts Post editor Fred Hiatt, the interviewer, to ask an obvious question: “So … are you looking at the prohibition of alcohol?”

The drug czar chuckles. “No,” he says, “we’re not exploring prohibition.”

Actually, Mr. Kerlikowske, you’re enforcing prohibition (defined as a “law, order or decree that forbids something”). It’s the same prohibition—on marijuana—that the federal government has kept intact for more than 70 years, despite its undeniable failure to meet any of its stated goals, and of which you are now the chief overseer.

Your prohibition, Mr. Kerlikowske, leads to the arrest of more than 750,000 Americans every year, all for mere possession of a substance that is demonstrably safer than alcohol, the very notion of (again) prohibiting you yourself find laughable. Marijuana prohibition, meanwhile, has deprived countless sick people of potentially live-saving medicine, endangered peaceful families in terrorizing and unnecessary SWAT raids that murder their pets, and killed more than 22,000 people in Mexico in less than four years of prohibition-fueled violence.

There’s nothing funny about prohibition, Mr. Kerlikowske. You might want to stop laughing, pick up a dictionary, and think long and hard about what it means.