The Drug Czar's Only Job is to Oppose Legalization (And He Sucks at It)
Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske is back in damage control mode again following Mexican President Felipe Calderon's call for a debate on legalizing drugs.
Kerlikowske, known officially as the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, spoke this morning at a border security conference in El Paso, where he tried to debunk the belief that taxing and regulating currently illegal narcotics would somehow put narco-traffickers out of business.
“[Traffickers] would not change their ways and turn to legal pursuits if drugs were legal,” he said. “Legalizing drugs makes them cheaper, makes them more accessible and therefore makes them more widely abused.” [Texas Tribune]
I would love for Kerlikowske to explain to me how legalization is going to completely change everything, yet somehow fail to affect the illicit market. Rather obviously, if drugs become much cheaper, the cartels get screwed. That is so painfully simple, I'm running out of ways to explain it.
As usual, the argument once again comes down to this ridiculous division over whether or not legalization hurts drug kingpins. It shouldn't take more than a kernel of common sense to solve this riddle, and if that's too much to ask, history has also settled this debate rather decisively for us. We did once ban the most popular drug in the country, and then legalized it again, so there's plenty to be learned from that experience if one is so inclined. Alcohol prohibition was the only period in American history during which the alcohol industry was controlled by murderous gangsters. Everyone knows that.
Of course, the only reason we even have a drug czar is to confuse people about how drug policy actually works. We've spent enormous sums over the years empowering government propagandists to distort the debate, and if there's anything remarkable about Kerlikowske's various comments on legalization, it's how bland, brief and boring they've been. His job is literally to clarify the Obama administration's opposition to legalization in as few words as humanly possible, so as to avoid getting anyone excited. His goal is to make the conversation less interesting, and he does a pretty good job.
Unfortunately for the drug czar, it really doesn't matter very much how he expresses his opposition to legalizing drugs. He's just the latest stooge to be tasked with the miserable duty of dealing with us, and as long as we keep forcing the subject, we're scoring points.