Gil Kerlikowske, the current director of the Office of the National Drug Control Policy, i.e. the “Drug Czar,” along with several former Drug Czars, is out with a new op-ed in the Los Angeles Times. This latest bit of professional propaganda argues against the passage of California’s Proposition 19, which would legalize, tax and regulate marijuana.
As expected, the Drug Czars seem to have no other choice than to resort to absolutely ridiculous arguments against the ballot measure. From the op-ed:
Law enforcement officers do not currently focus much effort on arresting adults whose only crime is possessing small amounts of marijuana.
This is such twisted logic that I feel I have disappeared down the rabbit hole. Part of their actual argument for maintaining our current marijuana policy is that cops have basically given up trying to enforce our current marijuana prohibition laws. In effect, they are fully acknowledging that our current policy prohibition against marijuana is an abject enforcement failure. Yet, somehow, they manage to twist this failure into an argument against changing the current policy:
This proposition would burden them with new and complicated enforcement duties. The proposition would require officers to enforce laws against “ingesting or smoking marijuana while minors are present.” Would this apply in a private home? And is a minor “present” if they are 15 feet away, or 20? Perhaps California law enforcement officers will be required to carry tape measures next to their handcuffs.
Now this is truly crazy. They are saying that because enforcing marijuana prohibition has proven to be such an impossible task that officers have given up, asking them to enforce sensible legal marijuana regulation would be an equally impossible new enforcement “burden.”
In fact, the vast majority of our laws are regulations. You are allowed to park ten feet from a fire hydrant, but not two feet from a fire hydrant. I personally don’t think our law enforcement officers are brain dead simpletons. They will be able to use their judgment to enforce basic regulations on marijuana use like they do for almost every other part of their jobs, including many regulations on where you are permitted to drink alcohol.
Their argument that a tax on legal marijuana would raise almost no money is just plain silly.
Regarding the supposed economic benefits of taxing marijuana, some comparison with two drugs that are already regulated and taxed — alcohol and tobacco — is worth considering. People don’t typically grow their own tobacco or distill their own spirits, so consumers accept high taxes on them as retail products. Marijuana, though, is easy and cheap to cultivate, indoors or out, and Proposition 19 would allow individuals to grow as much as 25 square feet of marijuana for “personal consumption.”
Why would people volunteer to pay high taxes on marijuana if it were legalized? The answer is that many would not, and the underground market, adapting to undercut any new taxes, would barely diminish at all.
I guess the Drug Czars have never heard of convenience before. Most people don’t actually like dealing with criminals or drug dealers. They would rather buy their vodka or marijuana from the liquor store down the street than spend their time tracking down some shady criminal smuggler to save a few bucks on taxes. The end of alcohol prohibition is in fact the perfect test case for this insane theory that legalization would result in almost no decrease of the black market. The reality was an almost immediate destruction of the black market for alcohol. Do you or any of your friends or family currently get liquor on the black market? I doubt it.
To deal with the other huge logical fallacy in this paragraph, it is important to note that tobacco, like marijuana, also is just a plant. It is as easy to cultivate as marijuana and it is currently legal to grow on your own property with no 25-square-foot restriction. Yet, as they admit, very few people grow their own tobacco. As an active home brewer, I can assure you that producing beer at home is both easy and cheap, yet home brewers produce an almost immeasurably tiny percentage of the total beer in this country. While it is both easy and cheap to avoid the tax on tobacco and alcohol by producing your own, very few Americans actually do.
This is what makes the fight to end our war on marijuana so difficult. The other side is not interested in an honest policy debate. Instead of honest argument, they rely on half-truths, distortions, twisted logic, ridiculous statements and naked propaganda. Sadly, America, this op-ed from Kerlikowske and friends is your wasted tax dollars at work.