This week, U.S. “Drug Czar” Gil Kerlikowske outlined the country’s new “21st century” drug policies in San Francisco.
Given the recent legalization of weed in Colorado and Washington, they might not be what you’re expecting.
At a meeting of police and law enforcement officials at the University of San Francisco on Monday, Kerlikowske, head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, bashed both medical and recreational marijuana.
Kerlikowske explained that calling marijuana a medicine “sends a terrible message” to the country’s youth, leading them to use marijuana more often than tobacco because they think it is safer, according to the SF Examiner.
As The Dude would say: Well, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.
According to the Reason Foundation, changing views and marijuana reform do not have such an effect on teen cannabis usage. In fact, statistics show that over the past few decades teen pot use in particular demographics has either declined or stayed statistically the same, while public acceptance has hit “record highs.”
Similarly, marijuana usage among teens is much lower than it was in the ‘70s, a time when legalization was a much less popular notion.
Despite President Obama’s promise during his first Presidential election campaign that law enforcement for marijuana would not be a priority for his administration, federal crackdowns on dispensaries still occur. Seven of more than 20 dispensaries in San Francisco have been closed down since October 2011 due to pressure by federal agencies, according to the Examiner.
California legalized medical marijuana in 1996, with 17 other states following suit. Last November, Colorado and Washington legalized recreational marijuana usage for adults over 21.
In regards to using legalization as a partial solution to public health and debt problems, Kerlikowske said:
“The Obama Administration strongly believes it is a false choice.”
He then added:
“Medicinal marijuana has never been through the FDA process. We have the world’s most renowned process to decide what is medicine and what should go in peoples’ bodies and marijuana has never been through that process.”
This does not necessarily mean it has no medical benefit, however. UCSF, among others, have demonstrated potential benefits for patients suffering from cancer and HIV/AIDS, as well as other possible medical uses.
While the status of marijuana in our country and state is obviously still under much debate, one thing is for certain: It might be a little longer until you can sit in Dolores Park toking it up. Legally, that is.