Drug Survey Release Thursday Raises Questions for New Drug Czar

For Immediate Release

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Bruce Mirken, MPP director of communications 415-585-6404 or 202-215-4205

Drug Survey Release Thursday Raises Questions for New Drug Czar

Reformers Wonder: Is Kerlikowske's Promise of Smarter, Science-Based Policies Real?

WASHINGTON - This Thursday's scheduled release of the latest National Survey on Drug Use and Health marks a critical test for new White House drug czar Gil Kerlikowske, officials of the Marijuana Policy Project said today. The tone and priorities Kerlikowske stresses, they said, will offer important clues about whether the Obama administration will continue the failed marijuana policies of the past or make meaningful changes.

"Gil Kerlikowske deserves credit for shifting the emphasis away from his predecessor's obsession with marijuana and toward true dangers like meth and prescription drug abuse, but that's small potatoes if he is afraid to tackle the reality of failed marijuana policies," said MPP director of government relations Aaron Houston.

Houston noted that the previous drug czar, John Walters, was notorious for cherry-picking statistics to create the illusion of success -- claiming progress, for example, even though last year's survey showed an increase in the overall number of illicit drug users and in illicit use of highly dangerous prescription drugs like OxyContin. He urged Kerlikowske to adopt a new policy of honesty.

"Kerlikowske has said repeatedly, 'Legalization is not in my vocabulary,'" Houston said. "In that case, let's talk about regulation. Let's talk about how teen marijuana use is up since the early 1990s while teen cigarette smoking is way, way down -- because regulation of cigarettes gives society some control over the businesses that produce and market tobacco. We can control marijuana and take profits away from the murderous Mexican drug cartels, but first we'll need to acknowledge that what we've been doing hasn't worked and can't ever work."

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With more than 26,000 members and 100,000 e-mail subscribers nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. MPP believes that the best way to minimize the harm associated with marijuana is to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. For more information, please visit http://MarijuanaPolicy.org.

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