|Drug Czar Takes Aim At Johnson|
Posted by FoM on October 08, 1999 at 19:51:18 PT|
By Nancy Plevin & Barbara Ferry
Source: SF New Mexican
New Mexico's drug war - the one between Gov. Gary Johnson and the Clinton administration's drug czar, Gen. Barry McCaffrey - escalated Thursday with dueling news conferences and name calling.
"He may be a great athlete, a self-made man, energetic. I'm sure he'd pass a polygraph test on sincerity. But this is goofy thinking that's harmful to New Mexico," McCaffrey said about the Republican governor's national campaign to legalize drugs.
"He ought to be ashamed of himself telling a bunch of college students that marijuana was wonderful, that cocaine was wonderful. Last year, 52,000 people died from drug-related causes," the general said at an early morning news conference during a whirlwind tour of Albuquerque that included a law enforcement breakfast, a tour of a substance-abuse treatment program and a Rotary Club luncheon.
Earlier this week, Johnson spoke to students in Washington, D.C., and referred to smoking marijuana as "cool."
"He's not seeing the misery these drugs are causing all over America," McCaffrey said.
Meanwhile the governor, at a counterpoint news conference at the Capitol, refrained from calling McCaffrey names, but reiterated his message that the war which Clinton's czar calls a success, has been, in his opinion, a miserable failure.
"I want to thank McCaffrey for coming to New Mexico. He brings focus on this issue, and it needs focus," Johnson said. "General McCaffrey heads the Office of National Drug Control Policy. So general, control it. Tax it. Regulate it. Get a handle on a product that right now is black market."
McCaffrey - calling Johnson "inappropriate," an "embarrassment" and "uninformed" - repeatedly ridiculed the governor's pro-legalization arguments, saying, "He's getting some of these sound bites out of Rolling Stone magazine. He needs to talk to law enforcement, health professionals. Come on, Governor. Go talk to the AMA."
Johnson acknowledged that he gets some of his information out of Rolling Stone, but said that the magazine's views on the drug issue are valid.
"What Rolling Stone and a lot of others who do really understand this issue are presenting ... are the truth," Johnson said. Johnson said that he spent the past few days in Washington, D.C., " meeting with people who have a lot more brains on this subject than I do."
At all of his New Mexico stops, McCaffrey touted the success of the drug war.
"Since 1979, drug use is down 50 percent, cocaine use is down 70 percent, adolescent drug use is down 13 percent and drug-related murders are down by a third," McCaffrey said.
But Johnson questioned why, if drug use if falling, so many people are being arrested for drug-related crimes and why the nation is spending record amounts on the battle.
"In the late '70s we spent $1 billion in federal money fighting drug-related crime. Today we're spending $17.8 billion in federal money fighting that crime." Additionally, the number of people arrested for drug-related crime has jumped from 200,000 in the late '70s to 1.6 million, Johnson said.
"When it comes to a cost-benefit analysis, this really stinks," Johnson said.
McCaffrey credited the decline in drug use to parents, law enforcement and the community for warning children about the substances' dangers.
"We've got a responsibility as adults - whether we used drugs as a sophomore at The University of New Mexico - to tell kids what we have learned growing up," the general said. "At the end of the day ... you have to sit down and talk to your children."
But Johnson said that kids quickly learn that campaigns aimed at dissuading them from using drugs are hypocritical. "They say here's your brain and here's your brain on drugs. They lump all drugs together," he said.
Johnson said that when kids do smoke pot, they learn that "they don't lose their minds."
"We need a more honest approach," Johnson said.
Johnson also fueled the ire of McCaffrey and state legislators by saying that forced drug-treatment programs, such as drug courts, which offer treatment in lieu of jail, don't work.
"Today we have mandatory models for treatment for people who are caught who choose between prison or mandatory rehabilitation and they really don't want to be rehabilitated. So you have a model today that doesn't work."
In contrast, McCaffrey said drug courts have been "magic," and have increased from 12 in 1994 to 600 this year.
In April, when Johnson vetoed a bill to provide $1 million in drug treatment for Northern New Mexico, he said he opposed the program because it focused only on voluntary, not involuntary, treatment. Johnson later signed a modified version of the bill into law.
Johnson's spokeswoman Diane Kinderwater said that despite his earlier veto message, criticizing voluntary treatment, the governor did not contradict himself. Kinderwater said the governor initially rejected the bill because it did not give enough flexibility to the department of health to shape the treatment program.
State Rep. Ben Lujan, D-Nambč, who sponsored the bill that Johnson initially vetoed, said he's "very concerned" about the governor's criticism of drug treatment and his legalization stance.
"Now he's become a medical professional," Lujan said. "He has stepped over the line. It's a disgrace."
The issue - along with the rest of McCaffrey's proposals - raised the ire of a few at the Rotary Club luncheon at Albuquerque's Crowne Plaza hotel. Three people stood up with a bullhorn and momentarily drowned out the general, chanting slogans including, "Drug War Kills Millions in Mexico," before being hustled out by police. Later, a few stood with picket signs on the street.
McCaffrey said he didn't come to New Mexico to confront the governor but to stand with people in the trenches of the drug war - health professionals and law enforcement.
"The people of New Mexico have to decide their own future," the general said.
Johnson, for his part, acknowledged that he was unable to find a single elected official in Washington willing to embrace his new cause. "Politically this baby is zippo," Johnson said.
"But from my experience there are a lot of politicians who are in the closet; they are saying 'You're right on' ... I'm hoping the critical mass is reached and that we would have this coming out."
The New Mexican - 10/8/1999
Governor Johnson Comes to Washington - 10/08/99
Comment #2 posted by ROBERT on October 09, 1999 at 03:24:56 PT:|
Comment #1 posted by Dankhank on October 08, 1999 at 21:47:46 PT:|
Email him daily ... get your friends to email him ...
I have hot links on my page to make it easy to get email to your representatives, the President and Vice-President, Governor Johnson, and the Evil Drug Czar...
Let the emails fly !!!!!
see link below: