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Drug Czar Blames the Media for Marijuana's Popularity

If you wanna hear drug czar Gil Kerlikowske getting served by random people who hate the drug war, check out this NPR interview. As soon as the phones open, Mr. K gets put on the defensive by a social worker, a physician and various others who aren't too fond of the war on drugs. Right on, radio people.

But I think my favorite part is this clueless attempt to explain America's obsession with marijuana:

KRIS (Caller): Thank you. I was wondering - I'm 62 years old, and when I was in high school, I didn't even know what marijuana was. And I'm wondering why is it so rampant now, and it never used to be?

Mr. KERLIKOWSKE: Well, I wish I had a good answer for that, Rachel. I am - I actually just about two years younger than you are, and so I'm afraid I would put myself in exactly the same mindset. But I think that marijuana is popularized on television shows. It is popularized in media. There is only one antidrug media message out there, and that's the one that the Office of the National Drug Control Policy actually funds, and that - the…

Has it occurred to you, sir, that TV shows and the media are talking about marijuana because people are interested in it, not the other way around? It wasn't the press that popularized marijuana, it was the people.

But this isn’t just about the popularity of pot, either. The reason marijuana is in the news constantly isn't just because everyone loves smoking it. This is happening because our marijuana policy is such a complete disaster that every single one of us is affected by it. If there weren't a massive war against marijuana being fought everyday throughout the country, then there wouldn’t be nearly as much to talk about, I assure you.
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Drew B's picture

Gosh Wally, Gee Willikers

(Or How to Act Dumbfounded When You Really Know the Answer)

My guess as to why marijuana (and all drugs) are so well known in high schools now is two fold:
1) drugs are very profitable to deal in (a very easy and fun job vs. fast food, etc…)
2) Adult distributors, higher-ups, DO NOT want to be caught and punished due to seriously harsh penalties, so they use kids.
3) In line with #3 is the "benefit" that by using kids to deal, it's MUCH easier to get new users as kids.

I wrote up a bit longer analysis here: Why Do Teens Deal Drugs?

Isn't some of this directly parallel to alcohol prohibition? Kids running it on the street corners to buyers, and probably taking a swig of it themselves as they take it from the adult distributor to the adult buyer?

And why shouldn't it be

And why shouldn't it be popular? Its safer, healthier, and more fun to use; in other words more desirable. Free market principle!

Actually, he's a bit mistaken

Until recently, the media was used by the ONDCP to push anti-drug story-lines on popular shows like ER.

Right Gil?

Media my ass

If there is one thing the mainstream media did not do.... it was help. They sided with law enforcement thirty years ago at least. No one can tell me the media didn't know the truth about marijuana and continue to publish the most outlandish stories it could find. If anything the media has done a great disservice to this country and the millions who have been wrongly convicted thanks to their bullshit.

I agree. I can't say I know

I agree. I can't say I know all their motives, but I know the main one: money. This is why we've been pummeled with stories about how great cars are for years and why public transportation is "bad." Auto companies buy TONS of advertising, how much does Amtrack or Grayhound buy? Govt. buys advertising to spread its anti-drug lies, how much do reform groups buy? (Not suggesting they should, but pointing it out.)

Perhaps there was also arm-twisting going on at the highest levels, as in blackmail; like some high-ups had some serious dirt on them and they were caught by gov. And in return for the gov. not prosecuting them, the media overlords had to tow various lines.

Also, many in the media have become experts in looking for, and magnifying the tiniest unflattering details, while overlooking the gargantuan problems.

What an idiot

Drugs are more popular than 45 years ago because of "the media"?!

Lord, protect us from your brain damaged followers. Somehow we've gotten to the point that "the media" is some kind of "other", something outside "us", the righteous. That idiots like Kerlikowski can actually blame "the media" and not be laughed off his stage is such sad commentary.

See if you can follow this Gil... the media isn't a separate entity. The media is a mirror.


I am Republican,47 yrs old ,my life has been lived under the drug war and it has caused masive pain to families and the rule of law.I say STOP! Its time to help people and be free!!!

Gil knows the answer, and he

Gil knows the answer, and he hemmed and hawed because the truth would cause a revolt in America. What better way to insure future profits for the prison industrial complex than to get the kids using early?! If you see all of the things that would suggest marijuana is almost legal already, look to the media. Its curious the media puts out so many movies, songs, etc that paint a picture of marijuana not being a "big deal" when it contradicts the reality that law enforcement's bread and butter is marijuana prohibition and the ramifications are serious.

What was it Orwell said?

About telling the truth in a time of universal deceit being a revolutionary act? If anything represents 'universal deceit', it's the DrugWar. And since the DrugWar is a 'deceit', then its' promulgators are, quite simply, liars.

And Mr. K knows that very well. Why he ever took the job is beyond me. But the fact remains he did, and now he must tell lies to earn his daily bread...daily bread supplied by people who are depending upon him to tell the truth in return for providing him a paycheck. The heavens are not opening up and providing him with manna for sustenance, we taxpayers are. And as taxpayers, we should demand the truth from such as Mr. K.

It's time for Orwell's 'revolutionary act' of truth-telling. And if Mr. K is not up to the job, then he shouldn't be on the payroll..


I have smoked for 41 years,and if you offered me a job that paid what he gets plus the perks of "seizing" anything I want from anyone caught with drugs,and control of a 40 billion dollar a year budget.well
just call me a liar.


You, my friend, are sell out! But, I would take the job, too! But, with my views, I would end up assassinated for attempting to fix the problem! (Been unemployed for four years, after sixteen plus years of post-high school education) What is wrong with this situation? Too much education is my answer!

Marijuana is addictive,the same way sex is

As with all things in life that are worth doing again. Even animals like to get "high". One rule of thumb about mushroom hunting is don't eat any mushrooms your not sure of unless you can see where the animals have been eating on some. This goes for sillycibin and eatable mushrooms.
Man has been "hooked" on marijuana since some caveman threw a funny looking bush in the fire,and he didn't read about it,see it on TV or even google it.
And the Drug Czar at least admi9ts that he is lost.


You said it yourself Gil,the ONDCP and all it's bureaucratic empire are really the only ones that say marijuana is a dangerous drug. The doctors and scientist that have done every study requested by congress don't say it is dangerous.The doctors that have first hand knowledge of it's medical attributes don't say it's a dangerous drug. The people that use it curse you for pushing your propaganda and they sure don't think of it as dangerous. And now most people that don't even use marijuana don't think it is dangerous.
Stand up and tell the truth Gil,we know you work for the bankers that make all those millions laudering
those billions of untaxed dollars,because it would be a stupid person that believes all that money is carried across our borders in suitcases,it is sent electronically. Do you know how many semi's it would take to haul 1 billion dollars? And I really hope America is not naive enough to believe that with all our technology that you can't,and no one else has been able to stop them.


This type of nonsense has been present since the inception of the ONDCP and we continue to spend millions of our government’s precious resources to support the War on Drugs and this dinosaur government agency.

If we are truly concerned about our burgeoning federal budget, we need to eliminate/purge this worthless government bureaucracy.

here's Mr. K's comment on regulating alcohol and tobacco

Mr. KERLIKOWSKE: "Well, I look at alcohol and tobacco, and we tax both of those. I don't think there's any question that the amount of money that the United States or any government gets from taxing those substances begins to pay for either the health costs or the social costs."
Sigh. Mr. K., that's because they are both dangerous drugs, alcohol abusers in particular kill, maim and devastate large numbers of innocent victims, but second hand tobacco smoke is a killer as well. No amount of money can repair a wrongful death or maiming.
What does that have to do with cannabis? No one even keeps statistics on people killed by cannabis because it is so rare. Since so many people currently being treated for cannabis are in forced treatment, expenses for treating cannabis dependency or 'abuse' are likely to go down. What other expenses does cannabis cause society? The government will make a very tidy profit off legal and taxed cannabis, and a lot of people will be able to get on with their lives, or what's left of their lives after 70 years of this stupidest of wars.

Mr. K keeps saying prohibition is not a war on people, it's hard to know what to make of such a bizarre comment, after all the people who have been and are being crucified in the war on Americans who prefer other drugs to alcohol and tobacco.

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