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Former ‘drug czar’ warns against marijuana use

| Friday, September 26, 2014

The former “drug czar” under President George W. Bush, John P. Walters, presented on the dangers of illicit drugs and potential solutions to a growing problem Thursday evening.

Walters, the former Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy from 2001 to 2009, gave a presentation titled “Pot: Hot or Not? The Young, American Democracy, and the Drug Problem,” addressing the effects of marijuana and illicit drugs and their potential legalization.

20140925, 2014-2015, Pot-Hot or not, By Sarah OlsonSarah Olson | The Observer
Walter, who now serves as executive vice president of the Hudson Institute, highlighted how the consumption of most illicit substances decreased during the years 2001-2007.

He also discussed how drug use among teens is growing, citing a culture that has embraced marijuana and advertised it as a natural remedy.

Walters stressed the importance of screening programs that accelerate the process of an addict realizing he or she has a problem.

“The use of court-mandated treatment has helped get people the care they need,” Walters said.

Walters presented statistics that showed the the criminal justice system is the largest reason people enter treatment.

“It would be nice if people could be educated by family members or friends, but ultimately the single greatest source of intervention and treatment begins with the criminal justice system,” Walters said.

Walters said he wanted the audience to know how pertinent it was to seek out the necessary resources to help a family member or friend who is potentially struggling with addiction.

“In almost every case if [drug users] get themselves treatment, there’s always someone who has been a source of compulsion to do that,” Walters said. “Although this usually is initiated by the criminal justice system, friends and family can be a vital resource of help.”

Walters warned against the potential dangers of legalizing marijuana for recreational use, citing evidence that claimed crime rates in Denver have increased dramatically since the installation of marijuana dispensaries in the state.

“Denver is becoming the new Detroit,” Walters said in regards to the growing rate of crime in the city.

When a student from the Denver area challenged this statement, Walters drew the crowd’s attention to a potential business owner’s point of view, and how marijuana legalization causes apprehension in an owner’s mind.

“Who’s going to want to bring a business to a city or region where they can’t get a workforce that is sober?” Walters said.

The Center for Ethics and Culture, Potenziani Program in Constitutional Studies and Students for Child Oriented Policy sponsored the discussion.

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About Peter Durbin

Peter is a Junior Science-Business major from Prospect Heights, Illinois. He enjoys sports, music, and all things Quentin Tarantino.

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  • Stel-1776

    This is not surprising coming from a Drug Czar. They are required to lie to prevent “any attempt to legalize the use of a substance (in any form) that is listed in schedule I of section 202 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 812); and has not been approved for use for medical purposes by the Food and Drug Administration;

    crime rates in Denver have increased dramatically since the installation of marijuana dispensaries in the state.

    Violent crime has decreased in Denver with recreational legalization:

    According to data from the Denver Police Department, violent crime (including homicide, sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated assault) fell by 6.9% in the first quarter of 2014, compared with the same period in 2013. Property crime (including burglary, larceny, auto theft, theft from motor vehicle and arson) dropped by 11.1%.
    [Study: Marijuana legalization doesn’t increase crime. MSNBC. 2014]

    Again compared with the same time period in 2013, in the first six months of 2014 violent crime is down overall by 3%, with murder down by 38%, sexual assault down by 20% and robbery down by 5.3%. Property crime (including burglary, larceny, auto theft, theft from motor vehicle and arson) dropped by 5%.


    This federally funded NIH (who are anything but cannabis friendly) study failed to find an association between medical cannabis dispensaries and crime:

    There were no observed cross-sectional associations between the density of medical marijuana dispensaries and either violent or property crime rates in this study.”
    Kepple NJ, Freisthler B. Exploring the ecological association between crime and medical marijuana dispensaries. J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2012.

    Violent crime has decreased in states that have legalized medical cannabis:

    Specifically, the results indicate approximately a 2.4 percent reduction in homicide and assault, respectively, for each additional year the law is in effect.”
    “…state MML may be correlated with a reduction in homicide and assault rates, net of other covariates.”
    “These findings run counter to arguments suggesting the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes poses a danger to public health in terms of exposure to violent crime and property crimes.

    Morris et al. The Effect of Medical Marijuana Laws on Crime: Evidence from State Panel Data, 1990-2006. PLoS ONE. 2014

    This federally funded NIH (biased against cannabis) study did not find that cannabis itself causes violence:

    …our results do not indicate that early frequent marijuana use causes later violence. Rather, we conclude that frequent marijuana use and violence co-occur because they share common risk factors (e.g., race/ethnicity, hard drug use). It is important to keep in mind that marijuana has been used for centuries and is the most widely used illicit drug today and that the majority of marijuana users do not engage in violence (Boles & Miotto, 2003).
    …the relationship between frequent marijuana use and violence (and vice versa) was spurious; it was no longer significant when common risk factors such as race/ethnicity and hard drug use were controlled for. We conclude that the marijuana-violence relationship is due to selection effects whereby these behaviors tend to co-occur in certain individuals, not because one behavior causes the other; rather, both are influenced by shared risk factors and/or an underlying tendency toward deviance.
    Wei et al. Teasing Apart the Development Associations Between Alcohol and Marijuana Use and Violence. Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice. 2004.

    It is the prohibition of cannabis that leads to an association with crime, not cannabis use itself:

    However, when eliminating all types of drug-specific charges from our models, we no longer observed any significant association with cannabis use”
    “However, the bulk of this involvement seems to be related to various types of drug-specific crime. Thus, the association seems to rest on the fact that use, possession and distribution of drugs such as cannabis is illegal. The study strengthens concerns about the laws relating to the use, possession and distribution of cannabis

    Pedersen W, Skardhamar T. Cannabis and crime: findings from a longitudinal study. Addiction. 2010.

    • HmmmSaysDavidHume

      What’s most disturbing is he is no longer required to lie. He is choosing to do so for some other gain.

    • João Pedro Santos

      That’s how disgusting conservatives are, they resort to all kinds of lies just because they don’t want their alcohol and tobacco companies to have competition.

  • Stel-1776

    “Who’s going to want to bring a business to a city or region where they can’t get a workforce that is sober?” Walters said.

    Is he implying that we should prohibit alcohol because legal alcohol means everyone is drunk all the time?

  • HmmmSaysDavidHume

    The amazing, myopic, contented ignorance of this man is unbelievable.

    ‘Who’s going to want to being a business to a city or region where they can’t get a workforce who’s sober?”

    Let’s see, Facebook was founded by pot smoking geniuses. Same for Google, Microsoft, Apple, and any number of the economy’s powerhouses.

    We’ve had three sitting presidents in a row who smoked it. We have Nobel laureates who smoked it and are arguing for legalization.

    What we don’t see from the old white man is an acknowledgement that he and his brethren have failed in every single way to affect supply or demand. despite his disingenuous claim of declining usage from 2001-2007, he purposely and deceptively leaves out that drug usage is more or less the same as always.

    And, in typical, sleazy fashion, he sites the ridiculously biased Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Task Force figures, which EVERYONE knows to be purposely Prohibitionist.

    No, to a hammer, everything is a nail. Drug courts work? Total BS. No one will take jail when they can attend one of those ridiculous education programs that only serve to enrich addiction treatment charlatans (and they are certainly charlatans – look at their results).

    Old, white and myopic. Incapable of seeing broader themes. Unwilling to acknowledge ethically disastrous outcomes. See the theme here? Nothing of character. Only puritanical nonsense the projects his own twisted morality on all. Slimy beyond reproach.

  • PWLandowner

    This yo yo should be in jail for war crime against Americans. It will be a good day when we ‘drug courts’ for jerks like this.

  • PWLandowner

    The use of mandated treatments like opiates to ‘treat’ the poor kids marijuana addiction. This BS miss-treatment and outright abuse of our kids is the real crime. So the truth comes out about this yo yo, he is just another bought and paid for hard drug opiate pusher/kid murderer working for big pharm. Lock scum like this up and throw away the key.

  • PWLandowner

    So this rock star worked for the old crack head alcoholic Bush. Who would have guessed.

    • I AM TROLL

      A rock star worked?


    Drugs are baad.

    • James A. Scholl

      I haven’t had any baad drugs, but then again I have had plenty of goood drugs.

      • I AM TROLL

        What about middle-of-the-road drugs?

        • DavidMHart

          I now have a mental image of someone trying to snort the painted white line that divides the right-hand lane from the left-hand lane.

          That is what you meant, right?

          • I AM TROLL

            Oh, is that what those lines are for, explains alot.

    • João Pedro Santos

      Yes, drugs are bad. That’s why drug addicts need to go to rehab instead of being imprisoned. And, despite I think that drugs are bad, I still think that people have the right to do what they want with their bodies.

  • knowa1

    This is the same scum bag that was made a laughing stock in Canada by Marc Emery and later had DEA head Karen Tandy go after him for giving money to legalization groups.

  • knowa1

    If Holder wants to be remembered on the right side of history he with his own signature can reschedule cannabis.today.

    • ministry86

      That would require a backbone and integrity, which he has proven time and again he does not have.

  • knowa1

    Arrest this man he is a criminal.

  • USpolicestate

    You won’t ever hear a DEA administrator discuss the real reasons why the Pentagon ordered US soldiers to stand guard over poppy fields in Afghanistan. Beginning around 2002 – onward , Afghanistan becomes the world’s leading supplier of heroin. The drug war laws have to be the greatest contrived evil construct ever devised. It is utter hypocrisy. I agree with the poster below who mentioned the need of drug courts after the govt’s war on drugs is eliminated. People like Cele Castillo who’s an ex-DEA agent need to be there to give testimony about how he saw pallets of cocaine being loaded onto military cargo planes during the 1980’s in Central America that were destined for US military bases. As well as people like Michael Ruppert who is an ex-LA police detective that was attempted to be recruited into the CIA as a drug distributor for the west coast of California in the late 1970’s and after he refused the offer, he ends up being shot at in a set-up. Then when he went to his LA police superiors about it, he was told to shut up, which ultimately led him to leave law enforcement. He spoke about this in a town meeting in 1996 where then DEA head John Deutch was there and got no straight answer. On April 13, 2014, Ruppert was found dead from a “supposedly” self-inflicted gun shot to the head.

    Gary Webb was an investigative journalist who wrote about govt involvement at high ranking levels and done so for years. On Dec. 10, 2004 , he was found dead from “2” gun shot wounds to the head and the coroner ruled it as a suicide because a suicide note was found at the scene. 2 shots to the head and it’s ruled as a suicide, yeah right.

    There’s also the case of Barry Seal, who flew drug shipments for the CIA in his plane and the main drop zone of Mena, Arkansas. He was scheduled to testify in congressional hearings but ends up being assassinated in 1986. There are MANY of these cases that the masses never learn about because they never get a spotlight put on them in the mainstream media. The war on drugs is a farce ! It has never been about public safety or keeping the health of the masses, NEVER. It’s always been about keeping the market profits of the criminal underground extremely lucrative for elitist bankers and their politicians. These cartels are small potatoes compared to them. When some local traffic cop makes a bust on some SUV on the interstate that has a few kilos of coke and they think they made a big bust and took the drugs off the streets, it’s a sick joke because the way things are set up, there will NEVER be an end to it when you have govt officials dealing in it ! It’s about business. They intend to keep shipping the drugs in but keeping the drug laws and using spin-doctors like this Walters guy to claim a desperate need for maintaining drug prohibition !

    There once was a time when any drug could be bought in a pharmacy in the US about 100+ yrs ago and only around 0.5% of the population used drugs then. In 1914 the Harrison Narcotics Act becomes the first major federal legislation against addictive drugs and every decade thereafter, the drug use escalates. The govt was at fault then, and they are still at fault now. Portugal stopped arresting hard drug users in 2000 and now drug use has fell by half. I completely agree with the post below about the need for drug courts being set up similar to the Hague because these elitists need to stand trial for crimes against humanity and imprisoned for LIFE.

    They have convinced the masses, particularly those who have Right-Wing leaning thinking, that drug laws prevent the nation from becoming dope addicts when US history and places like Portugal and Holland of today prove that to be the exact opposite. This is one of the main reasons why I’m 100% Independent in my political ideology and completely Libertarian to the bone and will have nothing to do with pushing for either of the 2 major political parties. Most of the information on the drug war has to be dug deep for and you cannot go by mainstream sources. The US has the world’s largest incarcerated population on the planet at 25% and only has 5% of the world’s total population and “illegal” drugs can be bought now in upper , middle , and lower class neighborhoods in any major US city. ALL of these drug laws need to be over turned but it isn’t good enough to just legalize them, those who have fought in keeping the drug war going , need to stand trial , then ROT in prison whether they are a legislator or some big banking CEO. The scales need to be balanced. It’s probably going to take some type of hybridized revolution / civil war with a complete overthrow of the federal govt to achieve this.

    Thomas Jefferson said > “If people let the government decide what foods they eat and what
    medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as
    are the souls of those who live under tyranny.”

    This is why just pushing for marijuana legalization isn’t going far enough because the tyranny will still go on. Look at this amount of wasted money >



  • Out of Touch

    Did this guy cite his sources? Of course he didn’t; he’s a career bureaucrat: http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2014/07/denver_marijuana_crime_louisia.html

    • wm97

      I have written to every US Drug Czar since William Bennett and asked them to answer one simple question:

      Can you name any significant study of the drug laws in the last 100 years that supports our current policies?

      I pointed them to Major Studies of Drugs and Drug Policy – a collection of the full text of every major government commission report on the subject from around the world over the last 100 years.

      I received personal replies from each Drug Czar, including Walters. In every case, they could not name any comparable research that supported our current policies. In fact, it was apparent in every case that none of them were even aware that any of these reports existed. The common denominator in all of the US Drug Czars is that they really know nothing about the subject and couldn’t pass the most basic factual quiz.

      • invisible man

        wm97, Bennett and Walters are both Catholic prelates. I doubt if you will change their minds with the Constitution etc. since the Pope says drug addiction is evil…
        Do you know any Catholic politicians that think God’s green seed-bearing herb is good?

        • wm97

          According to Bennett himself, it was more about winning elections for Republicans with hysteria. That, and the fact that the drug war is big business with big political interests behind it.

          I didn’t expect to change their minds. I just wanted a demonstration of the fact that the entire policy is driven by deliberate ignorance.

  • Jillian Galloway

    How does it make sense to legalize a harmful substance like alcohol while criminalizing a far LESS harmful and LESS addictive alternative like marijuana? We could prevent a lot of the harm that alcohol causes by giving people the right to choose marijuana instead of alcohol.

    Mr. Walters should be supporting this – everyone should! So why is he trying to make people less safe by denying them the right to switch away from the more harmful substance (alcohol) and towards the least harmful substance (marijuana)???

    • João Pedro Santos

      It’s all about business. Alcohol companies don’t want competition.

  • NutmegJunkie

    The worst thing about the drug war is that men like Walters will never have to answer for the sheer folly and injustice of prohibition.

  • wm97

    The question of what to do about drugs is not a new one. Over the last 100 years there have been numerous major government commissions around the world that have studied the drug laws and made recommendations for changes. You can find the full text of all of them at http://druglibrary.org/schaffer under Major Studies of Drugs and Drug Policy.

    They all reached remarkably similar conclusions, no matter who did them, or where, or when, or why. They all agreed that the current laws were based on ignorance and nonsense, and that the current policy does more harm than good, no matter what you assume about the dangers of drugs. You don’t have to take my word for that. Read them yourself.

    If you are new to the collection, start with Licit and Illicit Drugs at http://druglibrary.org/schaffer/Library/studies/cu/cumenu.htm That is the best overall review of the drug problem ever written. If you only read one book on the subject, make it that one. It will give you a good summary of what you would learn if you read all the other major reports.

    In 1973, President Nixon’s US National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse completed the largest study of the drug laws ever done. At the end of their study, they said the real drug problem was not marijuana, or heroin, or cocaine. The real drug problem, they said, was the ignorance of our public officials who keep spouting off with solutions but have never read the most basic research on the subject.

    In a perfect illustration of their point, Nixon refused to read his own commission’s report. The full text can be found at http://druglibrary.org/schaffer/Library/studies/nc/ncmenu.htm

    • James A. Scholl

      I’m glad Tricky Dicky died a miserable death.

  • wm97

    Marijuana was outlawed for two major reasons. The first was because “All Mexicans are crazy and marijuana is what makes them crazy. The second was the fear that heroin addiction would lead to the use of marijuana – exactly the opposite of the modern “gateway” nonsense.

    Only one MD testified at the hearings for the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937. The representative of the American Medical Association said there was no evidence that marijuana was a dangerous drug and no reason for the law. He pointed out that it was used in hundreds of common medicines at the time, with no significant problems. In response, the committee told him that, if he wasn’t going to cooperate, he should shut up and leave.

    The only other “expert” to testify was James C. Munch, a psychologist. His sole claim to fame was that he had injected marijuana directly into the brains of 300 dogs and two of them died. When they asked him what he concluded from this, he said he didn’t know what to conclude because he wasn’t a dog psychologist. Mr. Munch also testified in court, under oath, that marijuana could make your fangs grow six inches long and drip with blood. He also said that, when he tried it, it turned him into a bat. He then described how he flew around the room for two hours.

    Mr. Munch was the only “expert” in the US who thought marijuana should be illegal, so they appointed him US Official Expert on marijuana, where he served and guided policy for 25 years.

    If you read the transcripts of the hearings, one question is asked more than any other: “What is this stuff?” It is quite apparent that Congress didn’t even know what they were voting on. The law was shoved through by a small group of lunatics with no real awareness by anyone else of what was happening.

    See http://druglibrary.org/schaffer/History/whiteb1.htm for an entertaining short history of the marijuana laws.

    See http://druglibrary.org/schaffer/hemp/taxact/taxact.htm for the complete transcripts of the hearings for the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937.

  • invisible man

    By and large – Catholics side with the Pope on this issue. They don’t like God’s green herb. Pope says drug addiction is evil. End of story.

    • wm97

      I recommend that you read the many histories you can find at the links I have provided. Religion really hasn’t had a lot to do with it.

      • invisible man

        Will check out the info. Also, here is a link worth checking out. It backs up my argument.

        • wm97

          No. Sorry, it doesn’t back up anything. It is just one more opinion by one more person who really knows nothing about the subject and couldn’t answer the most basic factual questions about it. There are lots of those. That’s the real drug problem — people sounding off when they really have no clue – as stated by Nixon’s own commission – the largest study of the subject ever done.

          • Terri

            Nixon’s credibility was shot down when he was impeached for spying on innocent American citizens during watergate. His so-called studies were seriously flawed and were nothing more than a government witch hunt that was built on paranoia and racism. There have been much more legit studies in recent years.

          • wm97

            You don’t seem to be terribly familiar with Nixon’s US National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse. http://druglibrary.org/schaffer/Library/studies/nc/ncmenu.htm
            I recommend you actually read it.

          • Terri

            I have read it. Nixon didn’t. His propaganda was built on racism and corporate propaganda and was very deceptive.

          • wm97

            I don’t think we are even in the same conversation.

      • Terri

        He has a point. The Italian mafia is mostly catholic and are responsible for much of the drug trafficking after prohibition went into effect. They aren’t as moral as they claim they are.


        • wm97

          US Catholics are just like any other group in their opinions, and the religion with the most influence on prohibition has been Protestants. Not that religion has had anything to do with the reasons for prohibition, or its repeal.
          In other news, many Catholics have been seen outdoors during the full moon. It must mean something significant.

          • Terri

            They tend to howl at women for making decisions about their own bodies without authorization from alleged ruling authorities. Many are wolves in sheeps clothing.

    • Terri

      There are many religions that have no problem with the use of God’ miracle plant. The klan had a hand in the start of pot prohibition and so did corporations. The reasons prohibition was enacted was because of political and economic greed. Greed is not a virtue in most religions. When it was made illegal, there were many religions that were very ticked off because they considered it a religious sacrament. http://mjlegal.org/religious.html

      • invisible man

        Yes, I agree with you. Hearst, DuPont and co. saw hemp as competition etc. But, where are the religious leaders now? With Genesis 1:29-31, Gen. 3:18 and Genesis :9:3 KJV religious leaders should be the most outspoken against this form of greed. Instead, the Pope and televangelist Pat Robertson are against God’s herb – to them I would point out 1Timothy 4:1-3.

      • James A. Scholl

        Greed seems to be a virtue for the Catholic Church. If the pope was interested in helping the poor he would sell off all the Vatican’s holdings, wear sackcloth instead of papal finery, give all the proceeds to the poor and go follow Jesus like he was truly meant to.

  • Terri

    Drug czars have been known to lie. According to preliminary reports, teen pot use is down since legalization. Entrepreneurs are moving to Colorado too. I don’t know how prohibitionists can fit through doorways because of their long noses from lying so much. http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2014/08/07/pot-use-among-colorado-teens-appears-to-drop-after-legalization

  • James A. Scholl

    For one thing Denver’s economy is doing fine. Plenty of people moving business here. Just because Cannabis is legal doesn’t mean the whole workforce is “stoned.” Crime is actually down in Denver. Detroit is bankrupt and a blight. Where do these clowns come up with this stuff? We are going to take fools like him out a brand new door.

  • James A. Scholl

    We have legal alcohol in Colorado. The workforce must be drunk.

  • James A. Scholl

    We have legal sugar in Colorado. The workforce has rotten teeth.

  • João Pedro Santos

    “Denver is becoming the new Detroit,”
    How nice, prejudice. Does the Observer recognize that Notre Dame has students from Detroit, right? And Detroit’s criminality isn’t a consequence of smoking marijuana but of the high economic inequality existing there. Plus, arresting people just because they smoke a cigarette is what increases criminality. In countries and states where marijuana is legal, there are no crimes related to that and narcotraffic is way lower.