In a revelation that I'm sure will come as a surprise to absolutely no one, it turns out that ex-Drug Czar John Walters is still full of sh*t.
Responding on CNN last night to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's call to debate the merits of taxing and regulating the adult use of marijuana (e-mail the Governor here), Walters demonstrated that he remains an unrepentant liar -- even though he's no longer paid by the federal government to be one.
To summarize: in under five minutes Walters manages to falsely claim that:
Today's marijuana is far stronger -- and thus more dangerous -- than ever before. Actually, the Feds' own data indicates that the average strength of domestic cannabis hasn"t changed in over ten years; that marijuana -- regardless of THC content -- is relatively non-toxic and incapable of causing a fatal overdose; and that most folks -- when given the choice -- prefer to consume milder marijuana over highly potent pot.
More people seek drug treatment for pot than all other drugs combined. Technically true, but only because between 60 percent to 70 percent of individuals enrolled in substance abuse "treatment" for cannabis are small-time pot offenders who were referred there by the criminal justice system. In fact, according to the latest federal data, nearly four in ten people admitted to substance abuse treatment programs for cannabis did not even use it in the month prior to their admission.
Nobody is actually in jail for marijuana-related offenses. Ah yes, the "unicorn" theory. Never mind those 50,000 state and federal inmates serving time for pot offenses the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics talks about. In John Walters' fantasy world, they simply don"t exist.
Consuming cannabis leads to violent behavior and other criminal acts. Apparently, when pot doesn't make you "docile and unresponsive, to the point of helplessness," it makes you unpredictably violent. Or not. Look, I asked this question on Monday and I'll ask it again: Read about any gang-related violence surrounding the sale of alcohol lately? How about vicodin or paxil? Didn't think so. Consuming marijuana doesn't cause violent or criminal behavior, but criminals and violent people do engage in the black market trafficking of illicit drugs. The irony, of course, is that the very "violence" that Walters claims to lament -- that is, when he and his colleagues over at the DEA aren't hailing the increase in drug-related violence as a good thing -- is a direct consequence of the public policy (prohibition) he reflexively endorses.
**Side note: Maine Gov. John Baldacci just signed legislation into law on Friday making the possession of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana a civil violation, punishable by a fine and no jail time. Expect to hear Walters ranting and raving about marijuana cartels setting up shop in the Pine Tree state any day now.
Finally, for good measure, Walters even resurrects the claim that there are now more medical marijuana dispensaries in the city of San Fransisco than there are Starbucks -- an allegation so absurd that the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper laughed it out of the room some six months ago.
So here's my question: Gov. Schwarzenegger -- as well as U.S. Senator Jim Webb -- have called for a "debate" on whether or not to legalize the use and distribution of cannabis for adults. Webster's dictionary defines "debate" as "to argue opposing views." But as Walters' comments so adeptly illustrate, the opposing side has no actual "views," it only has lies and seven decades of bullsh*t.
Therefore, I say we skip the public debate and go straight to the public "debunk" (verb: to expose the fallacy or fraudulence of). I'm sure we can find the former Drug Czar a seat at the head of the table.