Drug czar talks tough on pot
WASHINGTON — As Washington state and Colorado wait to see whether the federal government will allow them to sell marijuana legally, the Obama administration is busy talking about the dangerous health effects of smoking pot.
When he went to Baltimore on Wednesday to announce the administration's latest drug-fighting plan, drug czar Gil Kerlikowske said legalization was an “extreme” approach.
In a speech last week in Washington, Kerlikowske said the best government policy was one that discouraged the use of marijuana and made it less available. Moreover, he said, the Justice Department is obligated to enforce the federal Controlled Substances Act, which bans marijuana.
“No state, no executive, can nullify a statute that's been passed by Congress,” said Kerlikowske, the former police chief of Seattle, making a clear reference to the two states that in November approved the recreational use of marijuana by people 21 and older.
Despite the tough talk in public, the bigger focus is on what steps the administration is taking privately as it prepares to officially respond to the states that want to override the federal drug laws and sell pot in retail shops.
With U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder expected to announce a decision soon, pressure is mounting from both sides.
Drug opponents want the administration to block the states, saying the federal laws would become a farce if the states are allowed to ignore them.
Marijuana proponents want the administration not to intervene, saying individual states should have the right to decide whether to legalize the drug.
While the administration has given no public indication of what it will do, many pot advocates are confident they'll have the upper hand once the smoke clears.
Advocates say any move to come down hard on the states might be hugely unpopular. A poll by the Pew Research Center that was released earlier this month found for the first time that a majority of Americans — 52 percent — now back legalization.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Suspect in San Francisco pier shooting was deported 5 times, federal authorities say
- Solar-powered plane crosses Pacific Ocean
- Hiring freeze, budget cuts put West Virginia on better footing
- Lion cubs jump hurdles in Gaza Strip in journey to Jordan sanctuary
- Northwest wildfire season begins early
- Lawsuit in deaths of 19 firefighters in Arizona yields little cash
- Diebold, heirs of Prohibition agent Ness squabble over stock find
- Ohio got DEA approval to import lethal-injection drugs
- Record-breaking solar-powered plane lands in Hawaii after flight from Japan
- Santorum charter flight tab broke $400K
- Instances of hacking may be up, but indictments against Chinese military impactful, experts say