Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Grounds for Dismissal?

You may recall me talking about our Drug Czar and his role in keeping illegal drugs illegal. Pretty sleazy if you ask me, this whole thing about him stifling research and opposing all legalization efforts. But at least he’s doing his job. And, like it or not, we taxpayers are getting our money’s worth out of him. Which is more than can be said about a lot of other civil servants

Just to refresh your memory, Mr. Kerlikowske recently told some folks in Fresno, CA that “Marijuana is dangerous and has no medicinal benefit.” He also included the standard required statement, “Legalization is not in the president's vocabulary, and it’s not in mine.” He’s made these very same statements in public on other occasion in recent months as well. Fair enough. The guy’s just saying what he is required to say, being the good puppet. I may not agree with his message, but when someone is paying you to do a job, I believe you should do that job to the best of your abilities. In this case, that would be lying, preferably with a straight face. And so far, our czar has been doing just that. Good job, Mr. Kerlikowske. Way to earn that paycheck.

Unfortunately, that was then, and this is now. Fast forward a couple of weeks, and we find our beloved czar in Seattle for a roundtable discussion on drug policy. You would expect Mr. Kerlikowske to continue being the good puppet and repeat the standard message yet again. At least I would, since that’s what he’s being paid to do. But no. During an interview with local news our czar backpedalled on his previous statements, and said:

“I certainly said that legalization is not in the president’s vocabulary nor is it in mine. But the other question was in reference to smoked marijuana. And as we know, the FDA has not determined that smoked marijuana has a value, and this is clearly a medical question, and that's where I've been leaving it.” He continued his mixed message with, “Sometimes you make a mistake and you work very hard to correct it. That happens. I should’ve clearly said ‘smoked’ marijuana and then gone on to say that this is clearly a question that should be answered by the medical community.”

WHAT!?!?!?! What do you mean you were talking about “smoked” marijuana? What do you mean the issue of medical marijuana should be decided by the medical community? That’s not the way we do things here in the good ol’ U.S. of A. Nosiree. Whether or not people have access to a medicine that improves the quality of their lives has nothing whatsoever to do with the medical community. Where have you been for the past 70 years, Mr. Kerlikowske? When it comes to marijuana, the opinion of the medical community, or any other community outside the Beltway, is irrelevant. If the medical community had anything to do with it, medical marijuana would have been legalized long ago. Or, at the very least, would have been extensively studied for the past 40 years. What could Mr. Kerlikowske have been thinking? What could possibly explain his very un-czar-like behavior? Could he have been self-medicating with an illegal substance?

Well, he did also say, “We had been hiking in 107 degree weather in the Sierra Nevadas...” OK, that explains it. He was suffering from heat stroke and was confused. But wait, that was in reference to his original statement that marijuana was dangerous and had no medical value. Now I’m the one that’s confused.

But one thing I’m not confused about is our Drug Czar’s blatant disregard for a Congressional mandate. He is required to oppose medical marijuana research and any other efforts toward making marijuana, and all other Schedule I drugs, legal in any way. That’s what he’s being paid to do. Seems to me if any other public servant so cavalierly disregarded the mandate of the people (i.e., Congress), they would probably be forced to resign. In shame. So what do you say Mr. Kerlikowske? After embarrassing yourself and your government so publicly, don’t you think it’s time you passed the torch to someone better suited to the job? I think Barry McCaffrey is available.

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