Drug Czar Denies that Marijuana Users Are Arrested and Forced into Treatment

On Tuesday, I had a chance to question the drug czar about his enthusiasm for drug treatment at an event in D.C. Mike Riggs at Reason has good coverage of the exchange.

The other good question came from Scott Morgan, of StopTheDrugWar.org, who asked if Kerlikowske supported compulsory treatment of casual drug users, and if arresting marijuana users and forcing them into treatment was an effective policy. This time, Kerlikowske played dumb:

"Again, that’s a bit of a myth. If someone’s arrested for a small amount of marijuana, and the determination is made they have to go into treatment, treatment beds and space are a valuable commodity. I think professionals can clearly assess when someone is in need of treatment. Compulsory treatment is not something I’m as familiar with in great detail at the local level."

It's an incredible thing to say, so utterly divorced from reality and plainly absurd to anyone remotely aware of how our marijuana policies and criminal justice system operate. It's hardly a secret that when the cops catch you with pot, they bust you and haul your ass into court where you're ordered to attend classes about how you shouldn’t smoke pot.

Our courts are open to the public and you can just walk in and watch this happen to a dozen people in one afternoon. It's worth doing if you haven't before.

The drug czar says that addiction is a medical condition, but it's certainly the only medical condition with which you get diagnosed not by a doctor but by a judge in criminal court based solely on the fact that a cop found marijuana in your pocket one single time. 

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Scott, its actually, well.. i

Scott, its actually, well.. i mean, i cant speak for everybody naturally but ill speak of my own experience which involves an arrest 3 misdemeanors all in one shot - i was homeless at the time so i was carrying an semiautomatic switchblade, i am a heroin lover (will never use words like 'addict' 'addiction' etc cause in my opinion those are just prohibitionist weapons and tools of the prohibitionist regime) so i was also busted with around 15 empty bags and a dirty needle. well the needle wasnt dirty, it was just used!! but anyway, so heres what happened, essentially having been through this game before in terms of the stupid AA/NA/xA sick psychotic prohibitionist groups, detoxes, rehabs, etc before coming to the conclusion that loving heroin is awesome, im not the problem and the uneducated ignorant people, family, friends, enemies, strangers, police, etc are definitely the problem and so now a proud opiate lover I was determined to allow myself to go to jail because i would rather do a year in prison than 4 years of probation, 2 years of supervised release, any amount of time in a prohibition program etc. Like I said I was homeless at the time and without me knowing some family arranged for an expensive lawyer to handle my case. I didn't know this at all but again as a ritualistic reformist I know enough about how this all works to know of course that if we all plead guilty the justice system would implode and that treatment is, in my opinion, akin to civil rights abuses. I was determined to plead guilty and avoid any of their outrageous tortures such as drug court, rehab etc. Idk if your aware of the gentleman but I read a good deal by the so called "Dr. H" Francis Moraes and no matter how homeless or bad things got I always kept a copy of "The Heroin Users Handbook" with me. So at anyrate when I got to court, family & the lawyer were there before me. They were all so confident about drug court and all this and I just paused and said whoa whoa that isnt happening. No. I'm pleading guilty. I'm not going through any of those games - I'm not playing this game. They all flipped out, then some huge argument ensued. Well would you get this, everybody from the Judge to the DA thought i was going to drug court. This is the way they operate. This thing about treatment, drug court etc. none of it is new and it's been going on for plenty of time now and let me tell you, i think, as far as they're concerned for now it's working because everybody seems to fall for it. They just suck up the guilt from their friends and family or whoever and they give in so easily i mean it's simple mathematics here, 4 years of having the government control your life, watch you, demand unconstitutional things of you and if you fail to do what they want you're going to jail anyway - the very thing you did all this for. 1 year of jail vs years of their control. I was determined to go to jail that day and guess what happened Scott? The DA and Judge were just blown away and were completely unprepared. My lawyer was upset but thats probably because part of his arrangement with my sick AA loving family was that he promised them stuff he should never have promised them about me. At any rate, we end up having to postpone the case and the DA wanted to get cute with me too. I didn't play his game, accept his sick game and so in return he wanted to try and prosecute me on a felony because of the empty bags of heroin. He wanted to get the official weight because i did have enough, (hilariously what these idiots called "decks") technically, i dont even remember now but they said if you have like 12 or more "decks" its felony, the thing is, they were all essentially leftovers, the bags were ripped open, used up and just rubber-banded together - as any opiate lover knows, you keep enough leftovers and eventually you may get a decent shot out of your leftovers however, alot of ppl dont do that they wana get everything out of the bag, thats cool too - yeah so yea right like there was gonna be felony weight in 15 empty little bags. The court ended up so confounded by this that number 1 the judge and DA didn't even know what monitoring program they'd put me in at the second hearing, and at the second hearing they still couldnt grasp that i wouldnt go to treatment but they still didnt have any weight count or anything. I was and always will be determined to go to jail instead of treatment. So basically it came down to the third hearing now several months after my arrest and they still tried to call my bluff and i still demanded they take me to jail. The DA never calculated the weight of the leftovers - OR he didnt reveal the weight because it was, predictably, not felony weight - and as a result they ended up allowing me to plead guilty to a violation of disorderly conduct and I had to do 24 hours of community service - OK first of all I shudder to think how horrible things would have been if I'dve done what they wanted, done basically what almost everybody arrested for drug stuff does and just cry and beg for mercy and take their horrific offer of treatment - that's what everybody does, jail or treatment? TREATMENT OMG! and then horrible things really can happen, instead of a year of your life, you can lose the rest of your life because of these horrible things - you can become brainwashed and cerebrally damaged forever as a result of their horrific "treatment." It's maddening and so sick. Furthermore, I was able to get a deal which has really no horrible long-term reprecussions for me. The most absolutely outrageous thing about this was that the judge demanded I be involved in some kind of program that monitored me for a year in terms of drug use and the DA told the judge infront of everybody that because I've pleaded to a disorderly conduct violation, essentially, drugs were never involved in my arrest - the judge said "how does that make sure hes never gonna end up back here?" and then he basically made an acception of the rule or whatever and then i was supposed to be monitored for up to a year by one of their stupid state agencies.  Well guess what? It's been over a year now and that agency never called me once. Never sent in a report once. They probably never even knew about it. Who knows what happened but the agency never got involved in my life. Beyond that, i did the community service and guess what? I was in my mid 20's then, again, arrested for mostly heroin related things.. The community service place I went to right, it was littered with other people doing community service because of arrests. Now basically everybody there, besides me, was a teenager, all of them for the most part facing their first arrest and they were basically all arrested for smoking or possessing marijuana. They had obsene amounts of hours to do for community service, 100's of hours and they were involved in bi-daily, demanding, controlling and absurd programs. Most of them, also, their first and only arrest. I couldn't believe it. And what else did they all have in common? Well most all of them accepted drug court, mandated treatment, INSTANTLY. DO NOT PASS GO. DO NOT COLLECT 200 DOLLARS. They thought the court was doing THEM a FAVOR! LOL, I tried to explain that infact it was THEM doing the COURT a favor by lessening their load and giving in. These kids I think would've gotten off with less to do than I had if they'd done what I did. 


Well Scott I've got to say, I'm pretty worried about this stuff because it's coming across to me like most people, aside from reformists, see this as some kind of new thing, the treatments and mechanisms that Kirlikowske is talking about. They don't realize things like this are worse than anything else, worse than a little prison time, horrible horrible psycho manipulative disgusting things. And the public embraces it as something new, healthy and good???! And I dont even think it's begun... Im afraid it may take years before this becomes some huge mainstream thing that is wildly applauded at first, only to take even more time to eventually be exposed before it crumbles... That's my fear - that this horrific con, this horrible horrible thing is going to only get bigger in the short term and take a long time to be destroyed and exposed. But thank you for doing what you did - i mean, sometimes i get frustrated with what i feel is a bit of a pot bias, and thats sometimes why i have such a heavy opiate bias in my opinions and statements, to try to even things out but nevertheless thank you!

Great comment, C.J.

Thanks for taking the time to write this. Good to know.

Do you seriously expect

Do you seriously expect anyone to read all of that without paragraphs or proper formatting?

I read it,.. it was

I read it,.. it was enlightening.

drug court

you are so right about the whole mess.  i have been saying for a long time...if people would stop taking the plea deals for possession arrests and just say ..i'll just have to do the jail time. the judicial system and the correctional system would explode. i'd give it 4 months and all this shit would stop.


The Drug Czar also says that MJ has no medicinal value, so once he has been proven a LIar on that issue what does anything he says warrant publication?

What was the standard

What was the standard practice in Seattle before pot possession became a lowest law enforcement priority? I find it hard to believe that Czar Gil isn't aware of how local jurisdictions deal with these arrests.

Gil sucks, Seattle Soars.

To think that 'low priority' came about on his watch.

Compulsory treatment -- Yes

It all depends on your definition of "compulsory." When the arrestee is given the choice of prison or treatment, and elects treatment, then the Drug Warriors say it is not compulsory. When drug treatment intake evaluators are faced with rejecting a drug user who is clearly not in need of treatment, thus condemning him (or her, of course) to prison, the evaluator is not forced to accept the arrestee into treatment. But they do it anyway.

The data are publicly available to show remarkably high treatment intakes of marijuana users "referred" by the criminal justice system compared to other referral sources -- at far higher rates than those whose primary drug is, for example, crack. This runs counter to scientific knowledge. Marijuana is not as addictive as crack, and one would expect more crack arrestees to be sent to treatment rather than incarceration. But, no, that is not the case. And to compound this grave injustice, the rates for referrals toprison rather than treatment, for all drugs, are far higher for males, and in particular for minority males, and especially for black males, compared to others. But white male rates of treatment referral are higher than all but white females.

All the evidence points to the CJS and especially the correctional [sic] system being racist and sexist. And of course the driving force behind the enormity of the problem is the inhumane way in which drug users are treated in our society.

Shame on us for not doing more about it!!!

racist, sexist AND ageist

There is little to support the law is equitable, efficient, just and colorblind, but it often forgotten that the greatest contributor to the drug 'problem' is age (or lack of it). Older folk do not carry proportionately  the social burden of prohibition. If they were arrested at the same rate as young, male, unemployed and colored there would be armed insurrection.

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