US Drug Czar: Federal Marijuana Laws Prevail, Expect Arrests to Continue

US Drug Czar: Federal Marijuana Laws Prevail, Expect Arrests to Continue

WASHINGTON, DC — President Barack Obama’s drug czar toed a strict line on marijuana Wednesday, saying federal laws will prevail regardless of state-level efforts to legalize cannabis.

Gil Kerlikowske said enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 — which ranks marijuana as a Schedule One drug alongside heroin, LSD and ecstasy — remains in the hands of the US Department of Justice.

“No state, no executive can nullify a statute that has been passed by Congress,” the director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy told a National Press Club luncheon.

“Let’s be clear: law enforcement officers take an oath of office to uphold federal law and they are going to continue to pursue drug traffickers and drug dealers,” he said.

Voters in Colorado and Washington last November approved proposals to legalize the possession of small quantities of marijuana by individuals in their respective states.

Earlier this month, a Pew Research Center opinion poll indicated that for the first time in more than four decades of polling on the issue, a majority of Americans — 52 percent — think marijuana should be legalized.

Several states have approved the medical use of marijuana with a doctor’s prescription, and the first marijuana clinic in the nation’s capital, just up the street from the Capitol, is near opening its doors.

New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo is meanwhile pressing his state’s legislature to decriminalize the possession in public view of less than 15 grams of marijuana.

But to the dismay of pot campaigners, many of whom voted to re-elect the Democratic president, the Obama administration has maintained its predecessors’ tough stance on marijuana as part of a broader, never-ending “war on drugs.”

Under US federal law, possession of marijuana is punishable by up to a year in prison and a $1,000 fine for a first offense, going up to three years and $5,000 for repeat offenses.

On its website, the Office of National Drug Control Policy says marijuana has “a high potential for abuse and no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States” as well as a raft of health risks.

Last week, the head of the US Drug Enforcement Agency, Michele Leonhart, told Congress it had seized $2.8 billion dollars in illicit drugs assets and profits, including some $750 million in cash.

Kerlikowske said the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington presented “a complex set of questions” to health professionals, school administrators, elected officials and law enforcement officers.

The former police chief of Seattle, Washington acknowledged that the drug debate in the United States is “extremely polarized” between those favoring wholesale legalization and those who prefer an iron-fisted crackdown.

“Neither of these extreme positions presents a 21st-century approach,” said Kerlikowske.

Legislation, the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act, has been introduced in Congress that would end the enforcement of federal marijuana laws in states that have either legalized it or adopted medical marijuana laws.

  • Mike

    Sure, Gill, keep doing what’s worked sooooooooo well in the past. We’ll have this “drug war” thing licked any day now — if we can just arrest a few more 100,000s.

    It’s really too bad there’s not some metric that determines whether there has been ANY effective return on throwing people in jail for cannabis. If there was, Kerlikowske would be out on the street looking for a job with all the rest of us. He’s sure made a dog’s breakfast out of the taxpayer’s dollars.

  • Mark

    The feds need to make the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act a law and quit this nonsense. The government is supposed to forward the voice and will of the people and not force theirs upon us. If it is the will of the people that elected the officials that cannabis be legalized and they refuse, then remove them at the next election.

    Reefer madness is over. It’s time for their failed prohibition to end.

  • firetheliberals

    It is embarassing to kerli that he was the police chief in seattle where weed is legal. So much for the citizens right to vote , huh, gil.
    I guess kerli still has a high neanderthal gene pool.

    This is exactly why the fight needs to go to the supreme court so that we can use the 10th amendment to establish states rights once and for all on this issue

  • kim robin king

    It is all about money. Start emailing all of your reps from the president down. NORML has all the phone numbers and addresses. Not all of the emails are with the addresses but they are easy to find. Send personal emails or better yet write a letter. AND KEEP THEM COMING. Don’t write just one message but many messages. These politictions need to fill up all of those private jails that would become half filled if they would decriminalize marijuana. Just think of all the people suffering in pain. They are also helping the polititions who line

  • Zach Itdoesntmatter

    LOL I be the drug czar is flippin out cause the majority is against him and his criminal poicys LOLOLOLOL its only weed stupid anti freedom losers DEA makes me sick he smokes weeed so hes under the effects of a narcotic narcotic=heroin vicoden oxycotton speed meth last time I cheked when people use those drugs they go commit rimes and shoot at cops when people smoke weed they go home sit there and watch tv and only real threat with mariunan is raiding your kitchen for some fucking food

  • Zach Itdoesntmatter

    maby going to bed
    real public safety concern potheads and bed violence

  • Thinking Clearly

    1. Of a kind and gentle disposition.
    2. Showing gentleness and mildness. See Synonyms at kind1.
    3. Tending to exert a beneficial influence; favorable: a policy with benign consequences for the economy. See Synonyms at favorable.
    4. Having little or no detrimental effect; harmless: a chemical additive that is environmentally benign

    Marijuana is benign. It cannot kill from an overdose. A 21st century approach is NOT putting people in jail and arresting them for using a benign drug.

    Gil Kerlikowske is harming people in the society by spewing the lies his job requires of him. The prohibition of marijuana is causing crime. Gil Kerlikowske is supporting crime and as a person with a conscience I therefore cannot support Gil Kerlikowske or the lies he is required to spew from the ivory chair of his office.

    • Pete Robbins

      yea Gil has no idea what the truth is … have u seen the footage of that idiot trying to tell us all that pot is soooo dangerous , hey Gil you dont have a clue and u should definitely not be in the white house..

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  • Crass B


  • Stephen C Hendrickson

    Time for legalization at the federal level.. The people have spoken..

  • Bhonze

    He’s a fucking idiot! The people rule this country, what happened democracy? We will continue ahead with legalization and smoke our weed. Fuck you and the FEDS!!!

  • Jimmy John

    The DEA Gestapo is gearing up! How dare people smoke a harmless weed! We need our DEA budget to grow next year!

    • RockyMissouri

      That is OUR MONEY that provides their salary…

      • Pete Robbins

        yep, and they wonder why so many people avoid taxes …. we dont wanna pay for bullshit laws that dont work !

  • Mike

    Feds are in complete denial

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  • Ender Wiggin

    police = terrorists.

  • dj


  • Teresa Donahue

    Leonhart did not disclose how many dispensaries were raided to get those seized assets as opposed to stopping the cartel and government run smuggling operations, allowed to continue unhindered.

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  • jammerk65

    expect to have more tax payers money wasted and peoples lives ruined over a plant that has proven to be less hamefull than tobacco and alcohol! the marajuana laws need to be changed! vote out of office anyone in the way!

  • David Kessler

    The US has 5% of the world’s population and 25% of the world’s prisoners largely due to the war on drugs. We can either have a free country or a drug free country. I know which one Gil would choose. It is time for all in congress to improve their popularity ratings (which are currently about the same as colostomies and root canals) by supporting a law that the public actually favors. It is time for all to Respect State Marijuana Laws and as Mark says, “quit this nonsense.”

  • madmatt6773

    “Let’s be clear: law enforcement officers take an oath of office to
    uphold federal law and they are going to continue to pursue drug
    traffickers and drug dealers,”

    Droopy is a lying sack of excrement. If local, county, or state LE could enforce federal law Arizona would be deporting illegal aliens faster than a drug warrior politician can accept a contributions from the drug rehab industry.

  • Jacob

    clearly if the majority of people want it to be legal, yet noone in the federal government does, then something is wrong and new people need to be elected.