Gil Kerlikowske, the Director of the White House
Office of National Drug Control Policy, the country’s new Drug Czar was
in Fresno, California this week for Operation S.O.S. (Save Our
Sierras). The multi-agency effort to eradicate marijuana in eastern
Fresno County has nothing to do with medical marijuana. However, that
did not stop Kerlikowske from declaring (erroneously) to the Fresno Bee
that marijuana “has no medicinal benefit.”
Certainly, Kerlikowske should have limited his public comments to the (non-medical) marijuana being pursued by local and federal agents under Operation S.O.S. But, if he really felt compelled to stray from the issues of recreational marijuana enforcement to comment on the medicinal use of marijuana he should have at least done his homework.
With a simple Internet search, Kerlikowske would have learned that studies in the United States, backed up by countless studies around the world, have shown marijuana to have medical efficacy for a number of illnesses and chronic conditions. The Drug Czar appears to be abandoning a rational approach espoused at the time of his appointment by President Obama in favor of an approach more akin to his predecessor John Walters. Kerlikowske, like Walters, has blurred the lines between medical marijuana and marijuana used recreationally. They are not the same and should not be treated the same.
Instead of endangering the hundreds of thousands of medical marijuana patients in the United States and ignoring a mountain of medical evidence, Kerlikowske should draw a clear line between the two uses for marijuana. This would not only allow states to continue to pass sensible medical marijuana laws without fear of reprisal from the federal government, but it would also allow the federal government to adopt a much needed comprehensive policy that took into account the benefits of this promising medicine.