Drug Law

Former Bush Appointee & Drug Opponent John Dilulio Supports Marijuana

| by Marijuana Policy Project

By Mike Meno

Talk about seeing the error of his ways.

John J. Dilulio, Jr., the man who once co-authored a book with two former drug czars that described America’s drug war as “the most successful attack on a serious social problem in the last quarter-century,” has now reversed course, writing in the journal Democracy that it is “insane” to “expend scarce federal, state, and local law enforcement resources waging ‘war’ against [marijuana] users.”

Specifically, Dilulio, who served for eight months in 2001 as director of President George W. Bush’s White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, listed making medical marijuana legal as one of “six steps to zero prison growth,” along with removing all federal mandatory-minimum drug sentencing policies. He also said the United States should “seriously consider decriminalizing [marijuana] altogether” because marijuana arrests have “close to zero” effect on crime rates and there is “almost no scientific evidence” showing marijuana to be more harmful than alcohol or legal narcotics.

This is coming from the same guy who in 1996 co-authored a (now out-of-print) book that was subtitled “How to Win America’s War Against Crime and Drugs,” with former directors of the Office of National Control Policy Bill Bennett and John Walters.

I would love to know what got Dilulio to change his views of drug policy—and how we could make other former prohibitionists see the light as well.

Here is the complete excerpt of Dilulio’s article that discusses marijuana policy:

“Sixth, legalize marijuana for medically prescribed uses, and seriously consider decriminalizing it altogether. Last year there were more than 800,000 marijuana-related arrests. The impact of these arrests on crime rates was likely close to zero. There is almost no scientific evidence showing that pot is more harmful to its users’ health, more of a “gateway drug,” or more crime-causing in its effects than alcohol or other legal narcotic or mind-altering substances. Our post-2000 legal drug culture has untold millions of Americans, from the very young to the very old, consuming drugs in unprecedented and untested combinations and quantities. Prime-time commercial television is now a virtual medicine cabinet (“just ask your doctor if this drug is right for you”). Big pharmaceutical companies function as all-purpose drug pushers. And yet we expend scarce federal, state, and local law enforcement resources waging “war” against pot users. That is insane.”