Drug Czar Lies and Evades on Washington Journal

In the wee hours of the morning, we managed to pop out a last minute media alert informing you that C-SPAN’s Washington Journal will have as their guest John Walters, head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. We suggested that you call in, and you did. Thanks.

To watch the video (RealPlayer), click here and skip forward to the 2:18:40 time mark. Some highlights include:

A caller from Tennessee was concerned about the use of taxpayer funding to combat various state marijuana legalization initiatives. Walters responded with, “…we don’t do campaign ads.” If they don’t do campaign ads, why did this news story surface in the middle of debate over medical marijuana legislation in Illinois? To view a lot more commercials, simply visit the ONDCP AdGallery. They are good for comic relief, at least.

Two minutes later, Walters stated that we “should not send to prison people we should treat.” He followed this up with: “We are not trying to punish people who need treatment.” How does he explain this report?

One person e-mailed to ask how the federal government can prohibit drugs when a constitutional amendment was required to prohibit alcohol. Walters evaded dealing with the constitutionality question by stating that the courts have upheld federal drug laws. Considering that the Supreme Court considers that growing marijuana for medicinal purposes in one’s backyard invokes the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, using court decisions to justify any argument about constitutionality is now rendered absurd.

Walters twice stated that alcohol and tobacco are also gateway drugs. I suppose we can expect their prohibition soon, too. He did seem a bit confused about his own data, though:

“…and we do have more [young people] using cigarettes and alcohol, but the good news is all of those are going down.”

So is it more, or is it going down? He also made it clear that the drug war is clearly a bipartisan effort after being congratulated by a Democrat for his efforts in the War on the Bill of Rights Drugs:

“I think I work in an area which is not partisan.”

To be clear, it is bipartisan, with Republicans and Democrats in agreement on the issue. There is clearly opposition from many other sides, making this a bipartisan, as opposed to a non-partisan, issue.

A female caller asked about a comparison of the multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical industry, which has addicted thousands of people to drugs like Xanax and Lortab, to illicit drug users. Walters:

“We’re working with the medical community and with regulators throughout the states in ways that we can use prescription monitoring programs and other tools that help patients and give them top notch care and not allow people who may get into trouble to harm themselves…”

They are working with states and regulators by arresting doctors for writing prescriptions for pain medications and making it difficult for everyone else to purchase Sudafed. With this sort of federal assistance, everyone gets screwed except Rush Limbaugh.

Walters showed his compassionate conservatism with:

“In a decent society, we don’t watch our friends and neighbors get sicker and not stop and help when we can.”

It is unlikely that he will “put his money where his mouth is” by denouncing the deportment and likely death penalty of medical marijuana user Steve Kubby or by helping Angel Raich receive the medication she requires.

In proof that not all Republicans are bad guys, one caller from Tennessee perhaps stated it best:

“It’s unbelieveable that you sit there and lie about how our drug war helps our nation. What’s it gonna take to get the truth out of our politicians that this draconian drug war that your suppressing our citizens with and all the lies about the cannabis? I mean, good lord, you’ve got people dying of oxycontin and you’re locking people up for cannabis. Nobody’s ever died of cannabis. When are you going to get some sense about yourself and this whole political party?”

32 Comments
  1. The next time the Drug Czar or other drug war cheerleader is on live TV, please ask them: Why do you want marijuana and other recreational drugs to remain completely unregulated, untaxed and controlled by criminals?

    Only legal products of any kind can be regulated, taxed and controlled by any government.

  2. Kirk,

    As a libertarian, it is tough for me to use the first two arguments, so I’ll leave that to my more liberal brethren. It might end up being a very convincing argument, though.

  3. I would ask the drug czar…

    Why did the government kill Peter McWilliams? Or Ezequiel Hernandez? Donald Scott? Patrick Dorismond? Ismael Mena? Ad nauseum, ad (damn near) infinitum… ? (Bet he doesn’t know these names)

    What happened to the 1974 medical cannabis study done by the Medical College of Virginia? That study showed “THC slowed the growth of three kinds of cancer in mice – lung and breast cancer, and a virus-induced leukemia.”

    If huffing (inhaling toxic fumes) by tween-age (11 – 14) boys is the most common mode of intoxication for that group, should we make household cleaners, solvents, etc., illegal?

    What is the name of the USA’s earliest and most prominent smuggler of hemp products into our country?

    Is it true more people have died from wrong-address drug raids than have ever overdosed on cannabis?
    (a: too many to 0)

  4. So we spend 20 billion a year… to catch sick people and put them as far from safety and treatment as possible…

  5. I don’t buy the “sick people” malarkey. Drug abuse isn’t a disease any more than obesity, smoking or alcoholism is a disease. It’s an inability to have some self-restraint. It’s being weak-willed.

    If they want to diagnose drug users with compulsive behavior, I’d buy that, but to call them sick, as if they could be cured by an operation or a visit to a miraculous bleeding virgin. Give me a fucking break.

  6. Like one of the callers said, if we’re going to have a discussion on drugs, we need to be honest about them. He accurately stated that he used drugs because they made him feel good, he liked that so much he refused to stop. He didn’t pretend that he was sick or had some addictive disease, he just didn’t want to stop. He watched his friends die, and didn’t want to stop.

    He was honest with his own kids and warned them that some drugs could make them feel so good that they wouldn’t want to stop, even as their life crumbled from neglect around them. That’s the honest discussion that parents should be having with their kids.

  7. Cancer patients AREN’T sick? Multiple-sclerosis doesn’t exist? Pharmaceutical companies are spending millions of $$ on cannabis research because it DOESN’T have medicinal properties?

  8. Allan, I’m talking about the addictive “sickness” bunk, not the medicinal uses that are well documented.

  9. Walters failed to address the utter and absolute lack of moral authority to condemn cannabis while tobacco and alcohol industries thrive.

  10. Who cares if someone calls their addiction a “disease” or “sickness”. They can call it whatever they want. Why would you care? It is none of my business what someone does with their own lives and it sure as hell isn’t the government’s business – disease or not.

  11. Who cares if someone calls their addiction a “disease” or “sickness”. They can call it whatever they want. Why would you care?

    Well I can’t speak for others but the reason why I dislike people such as the Durg Czar calling drug abuse a disease is because he is trying to act as if the drug war is really all about “helping people”. By claiming these people have a disease, it makes them seem helpless and thus they need the government’s help.

  12. The people with the worst sickness are the drug warriors themselves. Their depravity exceeds that of mass murderers — and they shut down their own logical processes about issues like medical marijuana in order to justify their delusions.

  13. I’d use any argument that gets it legalized. I’d rather them tax it then ban it.

    Some would gradually grow it themselves, shh don’t tell anyone… let them believe the tax thingy maybe it will stop this insane prohibition.

  14. Marijuana is medicine. I will be going to jail this month and the tax payer, who now pays $63.04 per day per imate, will be paying for me to go to jail. Only it will cost a little more to take care of me. $1,000 a month for my meds plus I am nearly bed-ridden. My medical conditions require that I have constant medical care.

    My crime…I got sick. I have a green thumb so they can put me away, for 4 plants, for 5 years. I look at it like a vacation or a secure lease. While I am there I can look for a better place to live or I can punch a CO (corrections officer) in the mouth and stay as long as I like. I institutionalize very easily. I am helpless. All I have to fight with is my medical condition. You use what you can.

    And as everyone knows, if I want I can get other drugs while I am in jail, like cannabis, for just a pack of soup.

    My story… http://ohiopatient.net/v2/content/view/70/2/

  15. Some of you argue for drug legalization with government regulation. Why, as libertarians, do you want to regulate drugs (or alcohol and cigarettes)? Isn’t that contrary to libertarian philosophy and beliefs? I say no regulation. There are other laws to deal with the messy side effects of substance abuse such as domestic violence and DUI laws.

    If free will is the driving influence of libertarianism, then one should be allowed to screw his life up as much or as little as he wants. I have no sympathy for those that make wrong choices. I certainly have made my share with no one to take care of me but me.

    What about suicide? Why not allow it and even provide facilities where it can take place? Any chosen method acceptable. A 7ft X 7ft concrete room with a floor drain would work well. Within the facility, a creamatorium should be installed. Of course, all funding would be private. Can one argue with me on the issues, strictly from libertarian philosophy? I do not think so.

  16. OK – I am pursuaded. Taxation and regulation is better than absolute prohibition. Thanks, guys.

  17. Julian, I believe that one should have the right to commit suicide. As my wife is a psychiatrist, this is a source of frequent debate in my household, though.

    I would not support a state supported suicide room, for the obvious reasons.

  18. Stephen

    I am not in favor of a state supported suicide room. I said a private sector suicide room. That way those that provide the service could benefit financially from the person that wants to end his life. Of course, there would have to be guidelines such as sanitation and disposal of the remains. That is why I advocated a concrete room with a floor drain. Clean up would be quick and sanitary, ready in a flash for the next customer.

  19. Julian,

    My apologies — I missed the private sector line somewhere. The construction plan sounds pretty good to me. Might want a lime bin nearby to get rid of some of the mess which doesn’t drain.

    I can think of a long list of people to whom I’d recommend the room. :)

  20. Randy, I hope your optimistic view of your prison term holds true. It didn’t for prisoner/pain patient Jonathan Magbie.

    A quadriplegic, he was sentenced in 2004 to a 10-day jail sentence in Washington, DC for possession of one joint.
    He died four days into his sentence.

    Magbie required a tracheotomy tube, a pulmonary pacemaker, and a ventilator at night to breathe in his sleep. Well surprise, surprise – the Department of Corrections did not have the equipment to sustain his health…nor did they attempt to aquire it – and he died 4 days later in his prison cell.

    http://www.cpmission.com/main/painpolitics/magbie.html

    I hope your incarceration goes smoothly Randy. Just be warned;
    worse things really DO happen.

  21. Randy, nice work!! (custom home/aquarium)
    And to think this was accomplished using the EVIL DRUG marijuana for your pain!

    (Geez…)

    It truly is time for a change. Not only the laws surrounding the treatment of pain – but ridding ourselves of those elected officals who fight our RIGHT to live somewhat normal lives – out of pain.

    Good luck on Jan 17th! You definately have our support!
    (our chronic pain mission)

  22. One person e-mailed to ask how the federal government can prohibit drugs when a constitutional amendment was required to prohibit alcohol. Walters evaded dealing with the constitutionality question by stating that the courts have upheld federal drug laws. Considering that the Supreme Court considers that growing marijuana for medicinal purposes in one’s backyard invokes the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, using court decisions to justify any argument about constitutionality is now rendered absurd.

    While some of the SCOTUS decisions certainly seem absurd, they are the final arbiter of constitutional interpretation, so it is not absurd to use their decisions to justify constitutionality. Until either (a) the Court overturns their bad decisions or (b) laws or constitutional amendments are enacted to resolve the issue differently, Mr. Walters is correct (on this one, narrow issue).

    Yours truly,
    Nick

    …hopeful…

  23. Nick,

    To some degree, I’d agree with your assertion. Kelo serves as a classic example. However, when a body invokes the commerce clause (Raich) to shut down growing a handful of plants in one’s back yard, they are no longer arbiters, but judicial tyrants.

  24. However, when a body invokes the commerce clause (Raich) to shut down growing a handful of plants in one’s back yard, they are no longer arbiters, but judicial tyrants.

    Well, in that case, they didn’t pull the Commerce Clause out, the government did. Additionally, the Court that allowed that expansive reading was the one in Wickard v. Fillburn back in 1942, when the plants at issue were wheat stalks in a back field. Other than substituting pot for wheat and backyard for field, the cases were the same and the precedent applied.

    Do I think that Wickard should be overturned? Yes. Just remember that deciding Raich the “right” way would require the Supreme Court to overturn a previous decision that has stood for 63 years, something they’re loathe to do.

    Yours truly,
    Nick

    …stare decisis…

  25. But the court confirmed the government action as “constitutional.”

    I do think Wickard should be overturned, but there is not a complete parallel between the caes. There was no way that Raich’s weed would ever be sold on the open market.

    As a law student, I’m sure you’d disagree, but the way we use precedent to excuse the sins of the past only creates even greater sins in the future.