Kerlikowske: Pot is dangerous and has no medicinal benefit
Less than three months after announcing that he would not use the term “war on drugs,” Gil Kerlikowske, the former Seattle police chief and current White House drug czar, came out last week sounding every inch the drug warrior in an appearance in Fresno, Calif. Here’s Kerlikowske quoted by The Fresno Bee:
“‘Marijuana is dangerous and has no medicinal benefit,’ Kerlikowske said in downtown Fresno while discussing Operation SOS — Save Our Sierra — a multiagency effort to eradicate marijuana in eastern Fresno County.”
That’s a far cry from Kerlikowske’s eight years as chief of Seattle police when the department was (and still is) remarkably relaxed on most things pot. In 2003, Kerlikowske said during the campaign for I-75 that the local initiative to make marijuana SPD’s least enforcement priority was unnecessary since pot possession for personal use was already a low enforcement priority for the department. When then Drug Czar John Walters visited Seattle ahead of the election and held a press conference where he advised voters to reject the initiative, Kerlikowske was nowhere to be found (City Attorney Tom Carr was the lone elected official by Walters’ side). Voters passed I-75 overwhelmingly.
Other than his thoughts on I-75, Kerlikowske had very little to say about pot. But if he truly believed it to be dangerous and with no medicinal value, then why didn’t he bust stoners and medical marijuana patients all over town? Why didn’t he have his troops shut down Hempfest? Was Kerlikowske simply being politically correct back then in adhering to “Seattle values” on weed? Or is he just being politically correct now that he’s in charge of helping set federal drug policies which are decidedly anti-pot?
Either way, Kerlikowske’s sudden transformation certainly runs counter to the positive buzz that floated around him after he was nominated for the Drug Czar post earlier this year.
As for Kerlikowske’s claim that medical marijuana having no medicinal benefit, that doesn’t seem to be what the voters and legislators in 14 states with medical marijuana laws have concluded. And it sure doesn’t seem to be the conclusion of this 1999 Institute of Medicine report , authored by actual scientists, which concluded that marijuana possessed medicinal value.