MEDICAL MARIJUANA: McCaffrey Blasts Decriminalization
Gen. Barry McCaffrey, director of the Office of National Drug Policy, told a House committee yesterday that the idea of decriminalizing medical marijuana is "sheer buffoonery from an ivory tower," and that medical marijuana referendums are merely a front for drug legalization, which the American public "overwhelmingly opposes" (Vanderkam, Washington Times, 6/17). He said, "Youth access to and use of alcohol and cigarettes is bad enough. American parents clearly don't want children able to use a fake ID at the corner store to buy heroin" (Abrams, AP/Boston Globe, 6/17). Speaking before the House subcommittee on criminal justice, drug policy and human resources, McCaffrey said, "The problem with drugs isn't that they're illegal, it's that they're destructive to the human body," adding that while marijuana does have "a potentially positive effect on some symptom management," the drug "doesn't cure anything." He also blasted billionaire financier George Soros for funding several referendums in Western states, saying Soros "did not appreciate the consequences" of his actions. Rep. Asa Hutchinson (R-AR) asked McCaffrey why his office had not spent money opposing referendums in California and Arizona, to which the general replied, "We can't go head to head with a referendum. ... This is a democracy." Rep. Bob Barr (R-GA) criticized the Clinton administration's decision to fund research on medical marijuana, saying, "It is absolutely inconsistent for taxpayers to fund such studies."
Although the hearing was "advertised as a debate on the pros and cons of drug legalization, members of the committee said in their opening statements that decriminalization would not be an option" (Washington Times, 6/17). Drug Enforcement Agency Deputy Administrator Donnie Marshall, speaking before the committee, said, "Once America gives in to a drug culture, and all the social decay that comes with such a culture, it would be very hard to restore a decent civic culture without a cost to America's civil liberties that would be prohibitively high." Rep. John Mica (R-FL) said that "the simple truth is that drugs destroy lives" (AP/Globe, 6/17).