Drug Law

Fmr. Attorney General Gonzales "Intrigued" With Taxing Pot

| by Marijuana Policy Project

By Rob Kampia

While I was in the green room waiting to debate Calvina Fay on Fox Business News today (we’re working on getting the video posted), former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales sat down next to me to wait for his interview on the sister Fox News Channel.

After exchanging some small talk, he asked me what I was going to be talking about on TV. After telling him that MPP was the organization that ran those ads in California last week that touted how taxing marijuana could help some of the California government’s budget crisis, he said, “Well, I can’t say I’m supportive of that. I have a 14-year-old and a 17-year-old to worry about.” I responded, “Well, I’m not surprised that you’re not supportive.”

But, continuing, I noted to him that teenage tobacco use has been decreasing for years because of public education about tobacco’s harmful effects, as well as the “We Card” campaign that has gotten serious about carding people for age before they’re permitted to buy cigarettes. He added that another factor is that the price of cigarettes has also been rising, to which I agreed, noting that the price increase is because of a tax increase.

In any case, I continued, teenage marijuana use actually increased over the same period of years, and tobacco usage rates have been falling, so that now an equal number of teenagers are using marijuana and tobacco. Maybe we could do better with marijuana by taxing and regulating it.

I also said, “You know, with your two kids, you might want to ask them whether it’s easier for them to find marijuana or alcohol in or near their schools.” He laughed, I think because the idea of asking his kids about scoring drugs is probably outside his comfort zone.

Just then, a Fox staffer came in to get me for the interview. ”Good luck,” Mr. Gonzales said. ”You can say on TV that I’m intrigued by your proposal.”