For Immediate Release

Hell Freezes Over: White House Drug Czar Backs Decriminalization

WASHINGTON - The Marijuana Policy Project today congratulated White House "drug czar" John Walters for backing a Mexican government proposal that would remove criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana.

"I can't believe I'm actually saying this, but John Walters is right," said MPP executive director Rob Kampia. "We heartily second his support for eliminating criminal penalties for marijuana users in Mexico, and look forward to working with him to end such penalties in the U.S. as well."

On Oct. 22, The New York Times reported Walters' public support for a drug decriminalization proposal by Mexican President Felipe Calderon, quoting Walters as saying, "I don't think that's legalization." Under Calderon's proposal, individuals caught with small quantities of marijuana would receive no jail sentence or fine and would not receive a criminal record so long as they complete either drug education or, if addicted, drug treatment. Unlike proposals supported by MPP, the Mexican president's proposal would also decriminalize possession of small amounts of heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine.

"It's fantastic that John Walters has recognized the massive destruction the drug war has inflicted on Mexico and is now calling for reforms there, but he's a rank hypocrite if he continues opposing similar reforms in the U.S.," Kampia said. "The Mexican proposal is far more sweeping than MPP's proposals to decriminalize marijuana or make marijuana medically available, both of which John Walters and his henchmen rail against."

In a March 19, 2008, press release from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, deputy director Scott Burns called a New Hampshire proposal to impose a $200 fine rather than jail time for a small amount of marijuana "a dangerous first step toward complete drug legalization."

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With more than 25,000 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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