A False and Embarrassing Press Release from the Deputy Drug Czar
For your amusement, I've posted the full text of a press release the Drug Czar's office sent out last week in opposition to a marijuana decriminalization bill in New Hampshire. I disagree with it, of course, but that is not why I've posted it. I share this because it is so filled with factual and grammatical errors that I'm told NH legislators have been forwarding it around and laughing at it. (sorry, no link)
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
STATEMENT FROM DEPUTY "DRUG CZAR"
SCOTT M. BURNS ON MARIJUANA
DECRIMINALIZATION EFFORTS IN
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Scott M. Burns, Deputy Director for the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), made the following statement regarding marijuana decriminalization legislation, which is currently being debated in New Hampshire.
"Decriminalizing the illegal and highly addictive drug – marijuana – sends the wrong message to New Hampshire's youth, students, parents, public health officials, and the law-enforcement community.
"The supporters of decriminalizing marijuana are fooling themselves if they believe the manufacturing, possession, and/or distribution of 1.25 ounces or – over 90 marijuana joints – is good public policy.
"Decriminalizing marijuana – the drug which sends the most of America's youth into substance abuse treatment and recovery – is a dangerous first step towards complete drug legalization. In fact, marijuana sends the highest percentage of New Hampshire residents into drug treatment than any other illicit drug.
"The last thing New Hampshire need is more drugs, drug users, and drug dealers on their streets and communities – further straining limited law enforcement manpower and resources.
I strongly urge responsible leaders in New Hampshire to stop any effort to decriminalize or legalize the highly addictive drug marijuana."
To learn more about the dangers of marijuana use, please visit:
Not a word of this is true, of course, but the highlight is the 3rd paragraph in which Burns reveals utter confusion about what the bill even says. The proposed law decriminalizes possession of up to 0.25 ounces of marijuana. It does not decriminalize up to 1.25 ounces and it applies only to possession, not manufacture or sales. Burns is either lying, or he is just dramatically and embarrassingly wrong.
Furthermore, 1.25 ounces isn't 90 joints anyway. An average joint is a gram, so 1.25 ounces is 35 joints, give or take. Since the bill in question decriminalizes only 0.25 ounces, however, we're really talking about just 7 joints. Nothing could be more typical of our friends at the Drug Czar's office than to claim that 7 joints = 90 joints.
Finally, we learn that marijuana must remain illegal because so many people in New Hampshire are in treatment for it. This isn't a lie necessarily, but it is pretty funny. How many of those people were forced into treatment following a marijuana arrest that wouldn’t have happened under the proposed law? We are arresting people for marijuana, forcing them into treatment, then citing those stats as evidence that marijuana is addictive and that we should be allowed to arrest people for having it. That is how stupid the modern marijuana debate has become.
Fact and fiction aside, the whole thing is just ugly to read. Its grammar and sentence structure are reminiscent of the incoherent anti-drug rants one might find on this blog after a big link draws hostile attention. Could they be written by the same person?
"In fact, marijuana sends the highest percentage of New Hampshire residents into drug treatment than any other illicit drug."
"The last thing New Hampshire need is more drugs, drug users, and drug dealers on their streets and communities – further straining limited law enforcement manpower and resources."
It's usually best not to get too caught up in correcting the grammar of one's opposition, and in most cases I'd consider that an indulgent and childish distraction from the real matters at hand. In this case, though, I think the high-schoolish tone in which the Deputy Drug Czar addresses politicians and the press is just lazy and disrespectful. Factual errors and bad writing are ubiquitous in any political debate, but when it arrives on White House letterhead, questions about basic competence merge with the broader ideological conflict.