Jimmy Carter's Drug Czar Says Obama's War on Marijuana Is "Totally Insane"


President Obama's war on marijuana–both medical and recreational–is "totally insane," says Peter Bourne, the director of the National Drug Control Policy under Jimmy Carter. In a brief interview with Newsweek, Bourne voiced support for removing federal penalties for marijuana possession and allowing states to regulate marijuana how they see fit: 

[Bourne] says the Obama administration's approach to marijuana is "totally insane." He thinks "they should be bolder," urging Congress to decriminalize and considering an executive order if necessary. Currently, what they're doing—raiding medical-marijuana dispensaries, defending pot's classification as a drug as bad as meth—"doesn't make any sense at all."

He thinks pot is "overrated" as medicine and should be discouraged in general, which is why he opposes jail time for pot smokers but supports civil penalties, at least at the federal level.

The states, meanwhile, should have control over their own pot policies, he says. Just as the Obama administration allows "Neanderthal states" to continue locking up smokers, Bourne believes it would be "wrongheaded" to fight those who want to legalize marijuana, whatever regulatory model they choose. He thinks the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol ballot initiative in Colorado "makes a lot of sense," even if, in practice, it were to become Sell Pot Like Cigarettes. "The tobacco companies have set up model programs, so that if it were to be legalized, they could immediately jump into marketing," he says, citing "contingency plans" shared with him by executives who visited the White House.

But by far his biggest concern is a Romney regime—and another move rightward, à la Reagan. "It would mean a lot of people being victimized," he says. And for what? "Nobody dies from marijuana use."

Bourne's concerns about Romney suggest he hasn't read the 2012 RNC Platform. While that's not exactly shocking, it is somewhat ironic. The criminal justice plank of the RNC platform endorses drug treatment programs as an alternative to incarceration, a policy endorsed by Bourne when he was serving under Presidents Nixon and Carter. More ironic still is that the CJ plank was written by Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens, an advocate of the drug treatment model started by Bourne under Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter.