Top U.S. General Says Marijuana Legalization Makes Latin American Officials Less Eager to Join the Futile War on Drugs

House Armed Services CommitteeHouse Armed Services CommitteeTestifying before the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday, Gen. John F. Kelly, who is in charge of the U.S. Southern Command, complained that marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington has made it harder to enlist Latin American countries in the war on drugs:

We've been encouraging these countries to be in the drug fight for 25 years. The levels of violence that our drug problem has caused in many of these countries is just astronomical. And so when we talk about decriminalizing, the example I would give you is the two states that voted to decriminalize marijuana, or legalize marijuana. Most of the...countries I deal with were in utter disbelief that we would, in their opinion, be going in that direction, particularly after 25 years of encouraging them to fight our drug problem in their countries and, you know, in their littorals. So that's kind of where they are on it. They're very polite to me, but every now and again when they're not so polite, the term hypocrite gets into the discussion. But frankly, the crime rate is so high in many of these countries and the fact that they see us turning away from the drug fight...They're starting to chatter a lot about, "Well, why don't we just step back and let it flow?"

Contrary to Kelly's gloss, "the levels of violence" in Latin America are caused not by "our drug problem" but by our insistence that other countries help us solve it by cracking down on suppliers, a strategy that has never succeeded in cutting off the northward flow of drugs but has resulted in many deaths. It is the height of arrogance for the U.S. government to demand that Colombians, Bolivians, and Peruvians help enforce its arbitrary pharmacological decrees, especially when that effort is not only futile but demonstrably harmful. So it is not hard to see why the officials with whom Kelly deals might react in the way he describes to signs that Americans are having second thoughts about this crazy chemophobic crusade. But recommitting to the never-ending, always-failing "drug fight" is not the only way to avoid charges of hypocrisy. If the experiments in Colorado and Washington lead to a broader re-examination of the war on drugs, I would count that as a benefit, not a cost.

Kelly claimed "countries that have decriminalized or legalized drugs are all now trying to figure out ways to turn back the clock," because "legal or decriminalized drugs bring crime, bring higher addiction rates, bring higher, you know, substance abuse problems." He did not cite any specific examples, which is not surprising, since no country has ever "legalized drugs" in the sense of eliminating penalties for production, distribution, and possession. The closest example is Uruguay, which has approved a plan to make marijuana legally available but has not implemented it yet.

[Thanks to Tom Angell of Marijuana Majority for the tip.]

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  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    This guy has his head so far up his ass that he can see the plaque on the back of his own teeth.

  • Pelosi's Rabbit||

    You don't have to be smart to be a 4 star general, just a good politician.

  • bkieffer||

    Sounds like one of those "feature, not bug" dealies.

  • R C Dean||

    My thought exactly.

    Thanks for another good reason to legalize pot, General.

  • UnCivilServant||

    Yeah, I'm trying to see the problem here. I can't.

  • AlmightyJB||

    How can they keep killing people if you take away their reasons to. You heartless bastard.

  • Tonio||

    You're giving the general a sad, UCS.

  • Doctor Whom||

    Cue the meme of Grumpy Cat saying, "Good."

  • wareagle||

    wouldn't legalization make the WoD null? Yes, I realize there are other drugs but...

    And the general may want to read his own words: "We've been encouraging these countries to be in the drug fight for 25 years."

    that we're still at it might be evidence that the wawh ain't working.

  • Tonio||

    More than twenty-five, actually.

    Bottom line is this will be bad for the Pentagon because the less we fight the Wo(S)D outside our borders we won't need as large a military.

    Less tax dollars needed.

    Less bribing and meddling foreign governments.

    So much win.

  • Tonio||

    meddling with

  • R C Dean||

    I've got a question:

    Why is a General opining on law enforcement matters, anyway?

  • wareagle||

    it's a war. Can't have a war without a general. And Southern Command is not facing Islamic goons are much beyond the occasional Chavez-type dictator that has always been part of the region.

  • WTF||

    Well, because it's a war on drugs, and he's the general, see?

  • Bardas Phocas||

    Legalization is harshing his killin' buzz.

  • sloopyinca||

    1: What do the armed services and the Armed Services committee have to do with the domestic War on Drugs?

    2: Why would an American General be commenting about the internal policies of other nations and their handling of their own laws? Do we no longer have a separation between the military and civilian components of our federal government?

    3: Why is the legalization of marijuana in two sparsely populated states so influential that it impacts how entire regions of the world react to drug trafficking but not influential enough for a President to enforce federal laws there?

    Seriously, why isn't there a single, fucking person on this committee with the common decency to ask these three basic questions and follow them up with a big, fat "STFU, General. You have no business being in that chair." right as he's about to answer them?

  • WTF||

    C'mon, sloopy, you know the answer to all your questions: "Fuck you, that's why".

  • sloopyinca||

    Let me at least ease my way back into full-blown outrage. I was gone for a while.

  • sloopyinca||

    Let me at least ease my way back into full-blown outrage. I was gone for a while.

  • WTF||

    The 3:00 squirrels, however, have started early today.

  • Tonio||

    It would appear that even the squirrels (bless their fluffy little tails) missed sloopy.

  • Tonio||

    Because the pentagon is scared shitless of legalized MJ. They'd have to stop booting people out for that.

    I suspect that the generals told Obama that they could deal with Gays or legal MJ, but not both. Unfortunately those damn voters in Colorado, etc.

    There are some real issues with military preparedness and MJ, but we can overcome those just as we've dealt with blacks, women and gays in the military.

  • Tamfang||

    Support Our Troops, dammit!

  • Hugh Akston||

    particularly after 25 years of encouraging them to fight our drug problem in their countries and, you know, in their littorals

    US Out of My Littorus!

  • wareagle||

    free the littori!!

  • Raston Bot||

    Did he drop the "C" because that would make much more sense?

  • Tonio||

    Don't be so literal.

  • Mainer2||

    legal or decriminalized drugs bring crime

    I suppose if you consider smoking pot malum in se, then in some sense making it legal would bring "crime". Sort of like drug warrior Paul Chabot being shocked that someone was "openly smoking a marijuana" in Portugal after it was decriminalized.

    Seriously, most of the drug warriors arguments boil down to "drugs are bad m'kay"

  • UnCivilServant||

    "Drugs are terrible, crime-causing things that no one should be allowed to partake of. Now pass me my cigars and scotch."

    I've heard the equivalent of that ramble for decades now from various people.

  • sloopyinca||

    If you're gonna quote Ted Kennedy, at least give him the proper credit.

  • WTF||

    +1 Mary Jo Kopechne.

  • Mainer2||

    Someone on this board once said that wherever Ted Kennedy is now, perhaps every thousand years or so, they'll let him out of that sinking Buick to stretch his legs a bit.

  • Hillary's Clitdong||

    As long as Washington feels a need to panic about threats to America's health and moral fiber, couldn't they at least change the subjects of the moral panic every few years? I mean, fast food is somewhat chemically addictive and certainly physically ruinous to people to overindulge in it. Maybe they could legalize cocaine, heroin, and marijuana, but engage in a War on Shitty Food instead. You could buy crack at Stop & Shop, but you'd need to drive to a bad urban area to buy a hit of McMuffin.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Never get high on your own Wendy's fries.

  • Hillary's Clitdong||

    When the prohibition campaign began to collapse, as it inevitably would, we'd also be able to enjoy the Wink & Grin articles from Reason about the rise of "Medicinal McNuggets".

  • sloopyinca||

    We prefer an "all of the above" approach to our wars on morality.

    -government bureaucrat

  • Hillary's Clitdong||

    Ronald McDonald, aka "Ronizzle McDizzle", is going to DESTROY YOUR CHILDREN'S LIVES WITH HIS FRIES. Teach your children to "Just Say No" to french fries.

  • sloopyinca||

    Those are Freedom Fries, you unAmerican supporter of Saddam.

  • Hillary's Clitdong||

    Not since they started to cause white women to sleep with Negro rap musicians. French fries and their fiendish butt-expanding qualities must be erased from this earth.

  • sloopyinca||

    and their fiendish butt-expanding qualities

    If it got the Kardashians off the air, I might support this government crusade.

  • gaoxiaen||

    How will we stop home-made fries?

  • Gene||

    Or homegrown weed for that mater.

  • SIV||

    Renaming was initiated in February 2003 by Beaufort, North Carolina "Cubbie's" restaurant owner Neal Rowland

    I highly recommend Cubbies for both the burgers and the now-trademarked Freedom Fries.

    In March 2007, Rowland obtained a trademark registration for the term "freedom fries".[6]

  • Dances-with-Trolls||

    You have a kid in public school?

  • 110 Lean||

    This is your brain.
    This is your brain on fast food.

    Any questions?

  • ||

    I support this measure. I feel dirty every time I eat a McMuffin. I never feel a negative thought about drugs. Might as well set the scene properly for "feelings."

  • Hillary's Clitdong||

    I've heard from a *cough-cough* friend that freebase smells considerably better than anything served at a Taco Bell.

  • UnCivilServant||

    I wouldn't know - I've never smelled Taco Bell.

  • ||

    You've never seen The Breakfast Club and you've never even smelled Taco Bell? Have you never had sex too? Or ridden a bicycle? I bet you've never even punched a woman or child, either, or beaten a homeless man to death with a tire iron. What's up with you?

  • UnCivilServant||

    I ate real food. Taco Hell didn't show up in this region until the past two decades, and is still one of the rarer franchises. For some reason people don't buy much from there.

  • ||

    Amusingly I've only had Taco Bell once and it was in upstate NY.

  • sloopyinca||

    Nikki, with all due respect, you live in a city than can't even identify what the fuck a pizza is. In all likelihood, you have eaten at Taco Bell once a week for the last three years and thought you were at a Burger King.

  • Dr. Frankenstien||

    We have thin crust too you know.

  • BakedPenguin||

    ...or beaten a homeless man to death with a tire iron.

    I don't know, Epi. With that handle, he could work for the Fullerton cops.

  • sloopyinca||

    You've never seen The Breakfast Club and you've never even smelled Taco Bell?

    I left for months and I have to come back to this mind fuck? I don't think it's possible for an American to fall through both of those cracks.

  • ||

    There has to be something wrong with him, Ken. I'm just trying to figure out what. Maybe his parents were Hare Krishnas?

  • UnCivilServant||

    We were poor. As in poorer than the welfare-dependant dirtbags that filled in the rest of the neghborhood.

  • ||

    So basically Hare Krishnas.

  • sloopyinca||

    We were poor.

    OK, well you've ruined about every joke I've come up with in response to Epi's post. Because whatever I say is going to make me feel like an asshole that makes fun of poor people.

    E-mail me your address and I'll send you my backup copy of TBG and I'll also send you a bean burrito. Don't worry, it'll be in the same condition when it gets there as it was when I sent it.

  • sloopyinca||

    We were poor.

    OK, well you've ruined about every joke I've come up with in response to Epi's post. Because whatever I say is going to make me feel like an asshole that makes fun of poor people.

    E-mail me your address and I'll send you my backup copy of TBG and I'll also send you a bean burrito. Don't worry, it'll be in the same condition when it gets there as it was when I sent it.

  • ||

    Because whatever I say is going to make me feel like an asshole that makes fun of poor people.

    C'mon, sloopy. We all know you spend your days lashing poor orphans in your coal mines and monocle factories, and you're going to tell us you never make fun of them?

  • sloopyinca||

    Yeah, but I don't worry about what they think about me. UnCivil is another story.

  • playa manhattan||

    "my backup copy"

    C'mon, man. There are no feds here.

  • sloopyinca||

    No, really. It happens sometimes when two people with good taste marry.

  • Mainer2||

    I live in New Hampshire.
    Taco Bell is usually the best Mexican food you'll find.
    Yeah, it's that bad.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Come now, La Caretta has what, 4 locations now?

  • BakedPenguin||

  • Warren's Strapon||

    In San Antonio, however, Taco Bell is hard to find.

  • Curtisls87||

    Taco Bueno?

  • Curtisls87||

    A few years back, we had a bunch of cousins from Massachusetts come to visit us. I made enchiladas from scratch. One of my wife's cousins, who was in her late 40s at the time, had never had an enchilada in her life.
    Clearly your neighbors below in Beantown don't get their Mexican on.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Yeah I dont know why anyone would go out for mexican when you can make it 10 times better at home.

  • BakedPenguin||

    I once got halfway through writing a satire about the US banning fast food and the resultant black markets. Dealers dressed like Ronald McDonald or Kings or Wendys would stand on street corners selling burgers, but scatter when the cops rolled through.

  • sloopyinca||

    In the future, the Nino Brown's of the world will be passing out crack pipes to Pookie on Thanksgiving and will be using naked chicks to baste turkeys inside The Carter.

    I like it.

  • ||

    In the future, all restaurants are Taco Bell.

  • Hillary's Clitdong||

    But do YOU know how to use the three seashells?

  • ||

    No clue. I'm going to live under ground with Dennis Leary.

  • sloopyinca||

    Hey! How about a spoiler alert. UnCivilServant probably hasn't seen that movie either.

  • Brandon||

    certainly physically ruinous to people to overindulge in it.

    False premise. There is nothing "certain" about that statement.

  • Rasilio||

    And this is a bad thing?

  • ||

    Most of the...countries I deal with were in utter disbelief that we would, in their opinion, be going in that direction, particularly after 25 years of encouraging them to fight our drug problem in their countries and, you know, in their littorals.

    So their politicians are as fucking stupid as you? What's the saying, you're always fighting the last war?

    "Hey, we've been doing this for 25 years and it's worse! We need to do it harder!"

  • Tim||

    A four star general who wants to whine about civilian policy?

  • Raston Bot||

    That congressional transcript is mostly one shitbag after another fellating the two generals. I gave up trying to find any substance.

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    We've been encouraging these countries to be in the drug fight for 25 years.

    How's that been working out General? Ya winning that Wore on Drugz?

    What a maroon!

    The levels of violence that our drug problem has caused in many of these countries is just astronomical.

    Let me get this straight. You take highly sought after products, make people who use and supply these products criminals AND THEN you're surprised when there is violence associated with production and distribution?

    If...if...if only there were some other time in history when people did something similar, that we could compare this situation to, we might have been able to predict the outcome.

    FUCKING IDIOTS!

  • Invisible Finger||

    How's that been working out General?

    For him, it's working out great. Thus, the alt-text.

  • DWC||

    I think most of us have come to recognize that the truth of things counts for next to nothing in this world. I wish I could find a way to adapt to that reality.

  • Ken Shultz||

    In related news, Latin American officials are less inclined to support the Cold War, now that it' over, too.

    For the Drug War to be over like that, we don't even need an empire like the USSR to collapse or the personality cult in China to declare that to be rich is glorious.

    Once we stop fighting the Drug War, we win it. Every single day, we drag defeat out of the jaws of victory all over again.

    P.S. Barack Obama is a jackass. He could really do some amazing things as a lame duck after the midterms, too--but he won't lift a finger to help anybody if helping them would weaken the appeal of his rigid ideology.

  • uhclem||

    "The levels of violence that our war on some drugs has caused in many of these countries is just astronomical."

    FIFY

  • Paul Pot||

    Here we get to see the top brass open up about their fears of ending the drug war. This is the real power behind the drug war. The Military Indusrial Complex. The drug war is the key to political instability around the world which is the deciding factor in how nations build their defence and security policy. The US defence and security budget is so big it's beyond belief. You could feed the people of Africa for a few hundred years for what gets spent on the US military in just one year. If you're talking about big business, this is the biggest business of all and they don't want to let go of it.

  • Paul Pot||

    Here we get to see the top brass open up about their fears of ending the drug war. This is the real power behind the drug war. The Military Indusrial Complex. The drug war is the key to political instability around the world which is the deciding factor in how nations build their defence and security policy. The US defence and security budget is so big it's beyond belief. You could feed the people of Africa for a few hundred years for what gets spent on the US military in just one year. If you're talking about big business, this is the biggest business of all and they don't want to let go of it.

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