Drug Policy

Drug Czar Says 'Young People' Smoke Pot Because They Saw Grandma Do It When She Was Getting Chemotherapy


Today the federal government released the latest results from its National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which indicate a slight uptick in marijuana use. Between 2009 and 2010, the share of respondents reporting past-month consumption rose from 6.6 percent to 6.9 percent. Among 18-to-25-year-olds, past-month use rose from 18.1 percent to 18.5 percent—leading Reuters to declare that "marijuana is increasingly becoming the drug of choice among young adults in the United States." If we are talking about illegal substances, marijuana has been "the drug of choice among young adults in the United States" ever since researchers started asking them about their drug use. Similarly, USA Today reports that "marijuana is as popular as ever," even though survey data (PDF) from the late 1970s and early '80s indicate it was more popular then.

None of this seems like cause for alarm, unless you are Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), who predictably blames medical marijuana laws. "People keep calling it medicine," he said at a press conference today, "and that's the wrong message for young people to hear." Because when "young people" hear "medicine," they think, "I bet that'll get you fucked up," whereas before they had no idea you could get high by smoking pot. However plausible that hypothesis may seem to you, there is little evidence to support the idea that legalizing marijuana for medical purposes increases recreational consumption by teenagers.

The new data do not bolster that case, says Morgan Fox of the Marijuana Policy Project:

We can see from this latest report that past-month marijuana use by 12-17 year olds has stayed the same for males and only increased by .1% in the past year for females. In addition, this report and other available data clearly show that in a majority of medical marijuana states, teen use rates actually decreased since the implementation of their medical marijuana programs.

In any case, Kerlikowske's argument suggests that a drug should not be recognized as a medicine if teenagers can use to alter their consciousness. But as the Drug Policy Alliance's Bill Piper observes, "In the field of medicine, whether or not a youth might abuse something doesn't determine whether or not an adult should have access to a medication and whether a doctor should prescribe it." Kerlikowske does not extend his logic to the stimulants, sedatives, tranquilizers, and opioid painkillers that can be legally obtained with a doctor's prescription. Indeed, he brags that use of black-market methamphetamine is half as common today as it was in 2006, even though the drug's legal status has not changed since then and it is still available for medical use.

The meth numbers, by the way, illustrate the perils of political explanations for drug use trends. If the Obama administration wants to take credit for the 30 percent decline in past-month meth use between 2009 and 2010, shouldn't it also take the blame for the 60 percent increase between 2008 and 2009? The upshot is that reported meth consumption was a bit higher last year than it was when Barack Obama took office. Taking a slightly longer view, the ONDCP emphasizes the drop in meth use since 2006, perhaps because that is when Congress imposed restrictions on the sale of the meth precursor (and decongestant) pseudoephedrine—regulations that Obama supported as a senator. Yet data from the Monitoring the Future Study (which covers a longer period than the National Survey on Drug Use and Health) indicate that meth use among teenagers peaked in 1999 or so.

The Republicans play similar games with drug use numbers.

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92 responses to “Drug Czar Says 'Young People' Smoke Pot Because They Saw Grandma Do It When She Was Getting Chemotherapy

  1. personally i like rolling down the street smokin indo sippin on gin and juice plus some vicodins but hey thats just me

  2. listening to me

  3. In any case, Kerlikowske’s argument suggests that a drug should not be recognized as a medicine if teenagers can use to alter their consciousness.

    I would say that this sort of statement would put pretty much all of the opium-based analgesics into the “not medicine” category, but actually they probably would like nothing more than to see that happen.

    1. I think Kerlikowske is right about this. There is a big difference between pharmaceuticals produced in a sterile environment, and “weed”. Some of these teenagers are just going to blow their minds, and grow up to be burn outs. I had friends in the 60’s that smoked that crap, and some of them turned into burn outs (others raised normal families). My point is, if we want America to win against China, we can’t have a nation full of burn outs! I doubt China is arguing about which drugs are good and should be legalized. Neither should we.

      1. Is this real?

        1. He didn’t get the memo about Thursdays.

      2. “win against china…” hahahaha. give it a rest propoganda panther. you’re clueless. Hemp is the ONLY thing that can save our economy and our environment from china, who is NOT our real enemy at all. If you had any idea what was going on, you’d know it is our own government that has been selling us out to china. The real enemy is close-minded, brain-washed liars like you and these scum bag politicians. Cannabis oil cures cancer. look up “phoenix tears”. a man risking his life to cure people’s diseases with cannabis oil for FREE because it’s the only thing that works and it’s the right thing to do. What diseases are you curing, panther? Actually, you seem to be helping spread the disease called ignorance. who made cannabis? the creator. the same creator that made your human body. did the creator make a mistake? what have you ever created? can you make a plant with the proven benefits that cannabis has? God made Cannabis as the perfect gift to help us integrate with the Earth. Cannabis can make safe clean oil, gas, paint, food, fabric, building materials, medicine, plastics, paper, etc. You can’t even make an intelligent response. Watch some documentaries that show people with health conditions getting relief with Cannabis right before your eyes before you start spewing trash. Read some real history and let it sink in that this country you take so much pompous pride in, would not exist if not for hemp.

        1. Hemp isn’t a cure all miracle plant. It has its benefits, but it isn’t practical to use in all of those situations. Also, phoenix tears is pretty much bullshit as a cure for cancer.

      3. Hello, you can say the same thing about people who workout too much. By the way, China was the main cause for our country to start fighting drugs, primarily opiates.

      4. Fight on brave little drug warrior.

      5. Are you serious?

  4. “People keep calling it medicine,” [Gil Kerlikowske] said at a press conference today, “and that’s the wrong message for young people to hear.” Because when “young people” hear “medicine,” they think, “I bet that’ll get you fucked up,” whereas before they had no idea you could get high by smoking pot.

    Wow, Jacob, did Kerlikowske really say “fucked up” at a press conference?

    1. That was my question too. But the dude is a cop, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he said it.

    2. On the first reading, I thought “For young people to hear” was the end of Kerlikowske’s quote, but re-reading now I’m not so sure…

      1. Methinks it should read
        People keep calling it medicine,” [Gil Kerlikowske] said at a press conference today, “and that’s the wrong message for young people to hear. Because when ‘young people’ hear ‘medicine,’ they think, ‘I bet that’ll get you fucked up,’ whereas before they had no idea you could get high by smoking pot.”

    3. I’m pretty sure “I bet that’ll get you fucked up” is in quotes because it is what “they think” referring to “young people” not as a quotation of Kerlikowske.

    4. He’s a gov’t official so he must be real smart.

      1. or real bias.

  5. Don’t forget my personal favorite, the whole your kids will become addicts by going through your medicine cabinet bullshit. Unless you are a cancer patient, who has enough drugs to become an addict with? There ought to be a new word for these people. Stupid just isn’t strong enough

    1. First it was just a birth control pill on Friday night. Then I moved onto Boniva. It got worse, lots worse. God help me, I was eating antiperspirant just to get going in the mornings. But I hit rock bottom snorting Ben-Gay. I’ve gotten my sense of smell back only with major nasal surgery and the support of the few friends I had left.

      1. I find I just can’t function day-to-day unless I’ve smeared icy hot on my balls.

        1. You’re lucky you still have balls. Keep off the birth control pills. I’m praying for you.

        2. I did exactly that once when I stupidly put Icy-Hot on my leg without putting on underwear first. The screams were legendary.

          1. I put some on my shoulder, then I took a piss. 30 seconds in I was worried I would die. 2 minutes in and I was worried I wouldn’t. I took a shower when I realized it wasn’t going away. It didn’t help.

            1. I, too, learned that water alone could not defeat the Icy-Hot on my testicles. A horribly unnecessary learning experience. Why weren’t there any warning labels?

              1. In college we snuck some of it into the powder a guy used everyday to powder his balls. Almost by definition I’m pretty sure he deserved it.

                1. Hey come on man, if you’re gonna steal something from a movie and try to pass it off as your own story, at least do more than a shitty half assed job of it.

                  Unless your name is booger.

          2. Psst–Hey round eyes!
            I get you some Tiger Balm!
            Best stuff evar! Real cheap!
            Make you like mexican jumping bean!
            You want some?

        3. no…words…

        4. This was a typical prank pulled on freshmen on my high school soccer team.

      2. Be glad it ended there. You don’t want to hear the horror stories from addicts who abused Neosporin and NyQuil.

        1. Well in all fairnress, you can actually abuse one of those JMW.

          1. True.

            Better NyQuil abuse than Buckley’s abuse though. Only masochists abuse the latter.

  6. I’m surprised they don’t blame Hugh Laurie.

    1. They avoid blaming anyone who would piss off “Middle America.”

      1. Wait a minute, “House” saves lives! He may not play by the rules, but HE GETS RESULTS! There’s no way he could be a bad influence! Is it possible that the Drug Czar has not always been completely honest?

        1. And once that happens, there’s the end of your drug war. So they’re very careful about who they blame…

          1. So, basically, Hugh Laurie can take whatever drugs he wants, even in public. Provided that his TV show continues to get good ratings, mind you.

            This explains the strange “celebrity exemption” from our drug laws.

            1. Bah. Some call it “taking drugs”, some call it “winning”.

  7. increased by .1% in the past year
    for females

    Will Tampax be the first to (re)introduce tampons made from bud?

  8. Kerlikowske and Biden really strain my principled opposition to the death penalty…

  9. How does the drug war continue to get stupider and stupider, and more extreme, even as more and more people think it’s wrong, at least in terms of MJ?

    Oh, I know how: the feds feel the power the drug war gives them potentially going away and are even more desperate to retain their stranglehold.

    Fucking scum.

    1. Cornered rat syndrome.

    2. Maybe you, as a Washingtonian, can remember, but wasn’t Kerlikowske supposed to be so enlightened regarding drug policy. His appointment was going to herald in a new view towards drug policy, if I remember correctly.

      Seems he’s merely a Just for Men using McCafferty.

      1. “Cautiously optimistic” would be the best choice of words.

    3. Epi, if it was just the drug war, they would be fucking scum. But since it is also so many other powers they are desperately clinging to, they are pure evil. Imagine the balls to tell someone who is suffering severe nausea that they can’t use a drug that will ease that suffering. I can’t imagine ever having that kind of evil person in a position of power.

      1. I can’ t imagine
        ever having that kind of evil person in a position of power.

        That is because terrorists have attacked your imagination.

    4. Cognitive dissonance. Keep the prohibition and they are saving the children from Reefer Madness. Legalize it and they are just tax collectors.

  10. Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP)…

    You had me at Kerlikowske. This toolbelt was basically told to resign as Chief o’ Police in Seattle, after his goons beat the crap out of a guy arrested for–guess what–drug possession. Civil liberties are merely a polite suggestion for Curly Douchenozzle.

    I certainly wouldn’t expect Curly to put two and two together, and think, “hey, maybe a .4 percent uptick in marijuana use by 18-25 year olds could be explained by the fact that the economy’s in the toilet, this age group’s having a difficult time finding jobs and paying for school, their friends are dying for no good reason in some Islamofascist shithole overseas, and they can’t afford to do the nifty things that we old farts like to do, like play golf and go to wine tastings?” .4 percent, FFS.

    Speaking of wine tastings, if Curly’s so worried about teh poor chyldwun getting their tender hands on teh droogz after seeing poor chemo-suffering Grandma using a little weed, why is he not equally worried about parents exposing their children to alcohol merely by having it in the house? Merely by drinking beers in front of the children at a neighborhood BBQ? Oh, because alcohol’s LEGAL and goes nicely with filet mignon. Oh, mmkay.

    The fact that we even have an Office of National Drug Control Policy, and that some moron who got run out of town as police chief actually gets paid an assload of money to run it, seems ridiculous to the point of being surreal.

    1. I think we are missing the point. People who have cancer and other painful diseases owe it to their country to suffer. Living with inconceivable, wracking pain is a small price to pay for your country.

  11. Who the fuck is blowing Biden?

    Look at his goddamn face.

    C’mon Joe, give ol’ Gil a reach around, he looks miserable.

  12. If I understand this post, more people are smoking marijuana. Allow me to clear my throat. Ahem.


    1. You know dats right!

      1. Wassup negro? Dap.

    2. Si!

  13. Meh, I used to drink Dimetapp by the bottle, so I sort of see his point.

    1. And I worry about my liver.

  14. We have always been at war with marijuana.

  15. kerlikowske is a class cop-o-crat and a moron. he was a crappy SPD chief, all he cared about was political correctness and doing the mayor’s bidding

    the fact that obama chose him says all i need to know about obama.

    those who voted for obama deserve the kind of idiocy and anti-drug hysteria that kerlikowske brings to the table, doing obama’s bidding of course.

    the SPD cops i know almost universally thought kerlikowske sucked. and that includes libs, conservatives, etc.

    he sucks

    1. The ONLY good thing about President Obama’s election is that the alternatives were about 100 times worse.

  16. Well, I’ve never smoked pot, but that is how I got hooked on chemo drugs.

  17. Remember, the rule is: If it’s fun, it must be schedule I. The really interesting thing is that if you look at the list(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Controlled_Substances_Act), the drugs in schedule II, as a whole are much more dangerous that the compounds in Schedule I. And several schedule I drugs have well known medical uses as well as very high safety profiles (Marijuana, GHB, MDMA, LSD, Psilocybin…). Hell, alcohol is more dangerous than all the examples I just listed.

    1. No kidding. That Schedule I list is like the good time all stars.

  18. An open letter to Gil Kerlikowske

    Occasionally, some unfortunate people end up with a job that make other people dislike or even hate them. It’s no fun and can be very stressful. It’s really hard to go and do something that you know is doing nothing but harm seven days a week and it can become quite depressing, dangerous even. It may also lead to you not only feeling guilty as hell but also very insecure at the thought of all those angry citizens that have generally become cheesed off at the thought of all the mayhem you’ve caused to their lives.

    What should you do? Easy; humbly hang your head in abject shame, and come clean. Admit you have unwittingly become part & parcel of one of the most horrific government policies in the history of mankind, and then hope you’ll get to keep your pathetic shrunken testicles.

  19. Is it me, or do I not see the obligatory reference to this (safe for work) anywhere but obliquely in the title?

  20. Okay, what now? The government’s going to remake Reefer Madness? Who will they get to star in it?

    1. Mel Gibson

    2. Alec Baldwin.

  21. Here’s another reason kids smoke pot: they like it! Humans are wired to respond to cannabis. Let’s get kids smoking more pot and discontinuing the use of harmful prescription pills, Gil. By the way, please go crawl under a rock and die.

  22. Is this, perchance, how Granma got run over by a reindeer on Xmas Eve?

  23. He’s right you know, kids only smoke marijuana because of the medical marijuana industry, as long as it was the industry that funded:
    that 70’s show
    Family Guy
    Half Baked
    Pineapple Express
    40year Old Virgin
    Every Kevin Smith Film
    The White Album
    Any rap album
    Cheech & Chong movies
    anywhere Harold & Kurmar been
    Dazed & Confused
    Fast Times at Ridgemont High
    How High
    Hot Tub Time Machine
    and the millions of other pot references in today’s culture.

  24. I do it because Obama inhaled and said “that was the point.”

  25. If anyone needs to smoke a joint it’s this guy our “Drug Czar”

    seriously where do they get these people today?

  26. “Among 18-to-25-year-olds, past-month use rose from 18.1 percent to 18.5 percent” where the fuck they get those numbers from? Last I checked it was more like 50-60 percent

    1. I think it is more of a survey of people who answer the questions on a government survey honestly than anything else.

  27. “If the Obama administration wants to take credit for the 30 percent decline in past-month meth use between 2009 and 2010, shouldn’t it also take the blame for the 60 percent increase between 2008 and 2009?”
    Not really. He took office in Jan 2009 and had more pressing political issues to deal with first.

  28. “Make the most you can of the Indian hemp seed, and sow it everywhere!”
    George Washington (1794)
    The Writings of George Washington, Volume 33, page 270 (Library of Congress)
    “Two of my favorite things are sitting on my front porch smoking a pipe of sweet hemp, and playing my Hohner harmonica.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

    The “War on Drugs” as it relates to marijuana is a fool’s errand. Legalizing marijuana would solve many current problems and actually create some benefits for the public good. Certainly the current way the government deals with this problem only prolongs the problem.

    Marijuana never should have been included on the list of dangerous drugs. Marijuana isn’t dangerous, and it isn’t a feeder drug. I believe the La Guardia Committee Report made a clear case on the harmlessness of marijuana and exposed the blatant propagandized lies. Everyone knows how wrongfully propagandized, distorted, and racially motivated the law enforcement efforts were in the America’s anti-marijuana campaign. Harry Anslinger was an ambitious, lying, and deceitful man with a bureaucrat’s interest in the slander and disinformation of marijuana. Other organized interests were against hemp as a resource: Logging wanted to capture the paper industry; cotton growers and synthetic cloth manufactures, such as DuPont, were also to blame for this inclusion while trying to eliminate hemp fiber competition. Today it is big pharma, liquor, tobacco, DEA & Justice Dept., & prison for profit companies protecting their rice bowls that keep up the ignorance of this war on cannabis.

    Legalizing marijuana would:
    -Cause the black market in marijuana to be gone, along with the violence related to it. You can’t beat that.
    -All of the marijuana money going south would stop, and remain here to be spent legally in our own economy. That is 60% of a cartel’s income. Losing that would be a serious blow to these groups.
    -Law enforcement, judicial, and incarceration expenditures of public funds for this would no longer be needed- Free the people.
    -The growing on and damaging of public lands would end, as people would rather grow it at home, ending the illegal cartels involvement.
    -People with medical needs would be able to seek some small comfort there.
    – (IMO) A decrease in drunk driving statistics would occur. People would soon realize that they enjoy marijuana more than the oncoming sickness of drinking, thus the non alcoholic would drink less, and be safer to the public concern overall.

    Another very important factor: Legalizing marijuana would allow for the acceptance of a large group of productive and responsible American citizens who only differ from everyone else in one intelligent way: they intuitively prefer thought stimulating marijuana to the dangerous sloppiness and oncoming sickness of drinking.

    Liquor lobbyists and the pharmaceutical companies would fight against legalization of marijuana for their self preservation reasons, as would the DEA. The DEA is a major recipient in the forfeiture of assets game, and they love the power they have, and they, along with the prison guards, and Wackenhut, want to remain fully staffed and budgeted.
    Let me stress that marijuana is safer and more enjoyable then liquor. Liquor companies know this, but do not want the public to adapt and adopt a safer smarter way. I’m no expert but, if people self medicated with marijuana wouldn’t that reduce the need for Zoloft and a dozen other mood drugs? Certainly there is little better with coming to grips with PTSD than the herbal remedy.

    The government’s issue is: Who will grow it and sell it? How do we manage it? How do we tax it? How can we monopolize it, diminish it’s quality, and tax it for as much as we can get away with? Those are greedy selfish interests, and as usual the government should leave it alone and stop looking at things in that self serving manner. The government needs to stop playing omnipotent God. In most cases government regulation creates more problems than it solves.
    Some of this issue is a 10th Amendment issue relating to federal rights verses states rights, and the people’s rights. In California marijuana advocates were willing to let the government camel’s nose into the tent tempting them with tax revenue. Do you want your government in vice control for greed and profit? Letting the government into the equation is a mistake, because it is in their nature to monopolize at the people’s expense.

    I propose that American citizens, of legal age, be allowed to “grow their own”. If every citizen of age that desired could grow say 12 mature plants for personal use, then all illegal black markets would dry up. The surplus would cause marijuana to not have much monetary value.

    One economic plus for my proposal is that good citizens who enjoy marijuana are a smart proud group of sociable people and will invest money into growing supplies. Your average proud grower will invest a few hundred dollars, or more, in the domestic economy to be able to properly grow, and show off, their little crop. This expenditure times 22 million people and you have a major boost in our economy, instead of the current hemorrhage of funds going to illegal drug lords, and the ugliness that comes with that.

    In conclusion: the current way the government deals with marijuana only prolongs the problem. If profit is to be made a black market will always exist. It is high time Americans stood up for freedom and demanded these repressive marijuana laws be changed, ending decades of unjust persecution. Give marijuana back to the people and freedom and liberty itself will turn what was an ugly problem into a favorable outcome.
    I can not get on a soap box and argue the merit of other drugs, but as far as marijuana I will defend it and speak my peace as a freedom loving American.

    1. You missed one extremely important point! The job creating, wealth generating activity that comes with Agricultural Hemp!

  29. Thats why i beat my wife cause I saw my grandad do it.

    1. Just hope you wait until your grandpa is done first, two on one is not fair

  30. They should have asked him if he ever found his gun!

  31. Wonder where Biden’s daughter learned it.

  32. When Gil Kerlikowske was Chief of the Fort Pierce Police Department, Ft. Pierce had, within the previous three years been labeled by 60 Minutes as Crack City USA and done a large episode on it. Kerlikowske came in and suspended drug arrests, dismantled anti drug teams and suffocated the Narcotics Investigations. He then used the reduced drug arrests statistics to promote his career and show a reduction in crimes. He utilized this data to apply for the Chief’s job in Buffalo and Rochester New York. Gil knows how to play the stastics game and has advanced his career doing so. When he Left Ft. Pierce PD it was one of the most violent and drug addled small towns in Florida, but on paper they had no problem at all… because arrests for drug offenses were eradicated. I have ZERO respect for this political TOOL.

  33. The uptick in use by young ADULTS 18-25 I feel is partly caused by the lessened stigma of marijuana use. It’s a survey and even if it is anonymous, the lessened stigma plays a role in how truthful the people taking the survey are.
    But I also do agree with the fact that marijuana is hard to classify since it is a plant matter that has many chemical compounds and several cannabinoids. Just too many variables to say what is exactly effective or what combination is.

  34. gil your an ignorant piece of shit, shut up, this dude doesn’t even deserve to breathe the same air, he so stupid

  35. Well, that’s your opinion, Gil.
    Opinions are like assholes; everyone’s got one.
    You, sure are your’s.

  36. brb, Granny’s showing me how to build a waterfall bong.

  37. drugs make girls like me.

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