Is the Drug Czar Afraid To Debate?

  Is the Drug Czar Afraid To Debate?

Posted by CN Staff on October 01, 2003 at 17:27:53 PT
By Robert Kampia, AlterNet 
Source: AlterNet 

On September 10, White House Drug Czar John Walters called for "a national debate" about marijuana policy. The Marijuana Policy Project hopes he meant it. As soon as Walters' offer to debate was reported in the September 17 Seattle Weekly, we faxed the following letter to his office:
John Walters, DirectorOffice of National Drug Control PolicyThe White House Dear Mr. Walters, I was pleased to hear that in your Sept. 10 news conference in Seattle, you said, "The real issue is, should we legalize marijuana? Let's have a national debate about that." You were absolutely correct when you told your Seattle audience that marijuana policy has never been properly and thoroughly debated in this country. It's time to have that debate, so I am pleased to accept your invitation. I propose that you and I immediately agree to hold a public debate within the next six months in the vicinity of Washington, D.C. The time and place should be suitable for national television coverage, and the debate should be moderated by a neutral journalist chosen by mutual agreement. I am confident your offer represents a genuine desire to move past the demonization of those who disagree with your policies by finally having an honest debate about the impact of marijuana prohibition. I have no doubt that – once armed with all the facts – the American people will make wise choices. Please have your staff contact my executive assistant, Jen Grizard, as soon as possible so that we can begin making the necessary arrangements. I look forward to working with you on this effort. Sincerely,Robert Kampia, Executive DirectorMarijuana Policy ProjectThe offer to debate marks a shift for Walters, who has previously ducked every opportunity to debate knowledgeable critics of his policies. Instead, he has made phony offers – for example, singling out just one of my organization's 13,000 members and offering to debate him – while hiding from real debate invitations. Is he serious this time? We don't know. We haven't received a response yet, but remain hopeful, because Walters' Seattle statement was right: It is time for a national debate on marijuana prohibition. It is time for the White House's drug czar to explain why he continues to paint a distorted, exaggerated picture of marijuana's dangers while experts around the world are coming to the opposite conclusion. Just a few days ago, for example, the Swiss Institute for Prevention of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse told the medical journal The Lancet, "For the sake of our own credibility we cannot allow that alcohol and tobacco, which kill 10,000 people a year in Switzerland, are sold with all kinds of marketing wizardry, while consumption of cannabis, a less dangerous product, is a legal offense." It is time for the drug czar to explain why he wants to continue present policies when all signs point to their utter failure. Consider the results from the just-released national PRIDE Survey of U.S. teenagers, one of two surveys designated by Congress as official measures of the drug czar's success. Walters carpet-bombed the airwaves with scary commercials telling teens that if they light up a joint they're likely to commit date rape and shoot their friends, and what happened? * The proportion of eighth graders using marijuana in the past month ("current use" in research parlance) rocketed from 7.2 percent to 10.2 percent – a 43 percent increase. * Among sixth graders, current marijuana use doubled, from 1.7 percent to 3.4 percent. * Current use of cocaine rose among all age groups over the last year, nearly doubling among sixth and ninth graders. * Current heroin use among junior high students increased 60 percent.No sane person can look at these numbers without being alarmed. All of us owe the public an informed, fact-based debate on whether our country should be considering alternatives to marijuana prohibition. The lives of our nation's young people are at stake. We're ready, Mr. Walters. Are you? Robert Kampia is executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, based in Washington, D.C.URL: AlterNetAuthor:   Robert Kampia, AlterNetPublished: October 1, 2003Copyright: 2003 Independent Media InstituteContact: info Website: Articles & Web Site:Marijuana Policy Project State Of Drug Reform Bud? - Seattle Weekly

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Comment #4 posted by kaptinemo on October 02, 2003 at 07:44:50 PT:
Johnny Pee needs to be hounded at every step
DEBATE! DEBATE! DEBATE! has to be dinned into his ears until he makes a major public goof and tries to be condescending or snide. (Like that horse's arse Souder did when Mr. Kampia was testifying last time, about not consulting murderers about legal punishments for them, so why should he talk to cannabists?) Then point out his attempts to denigrate what he's afraid to debate is hardly the response for a grown man who's soooooo sure of his position to engage in.The DEAWatch people are right to be afraid...very afraid. Walters, like nearly all antis, is just fine so long as there's no real dialogue, but put him face to face with someone who both knows his facts and is tenacious about getting his points across while skewering officous lies, and watch him melt.Hey, Johnny Pee, we're ready for ya! Let 'er rip! 
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Comment #3 posted by ekim on October 01, 2003 at 19:31:58 PT
Robert start the debate with Dennis and Ralph
Tuesday, October 7, 2003
6:00 pm
Washington, D.C. 
Democracy Rising Rally
with Ralph Nader and Dennis Kucinich
Performances by DC hip hop artist Head-Roc featuring Noyeek the Grizzly Bear
Local speakers including:
DC Library Renaissance Project Director
Elizabeth Davis, DC Public school teacher
Vanessa Dixon, DC Healthcare Coalition
Dorothy Scott, Washington Inner-City Self Help
At the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church
1518 M St. NW in Washington (just blocks from the Red, Blue Orange & Green Metro lines)
$10 in advance, $15 at the door
Join your neighbors, inform yourself and help improve your community! 
call (202)319-2422 to volunteer 
for more information visit
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Comment #2 posted by RevHappy on October 01, 2003 at 18:01:18 PT:

There is No Debate.
On September 10, White House Drug Czar John Walters called for "a national debate" about marijuana policy.I went to the High School today to ask questions about a local proposal, prop U. The same people came to the Cass City Council meeting on Monday to present the same propaganda and when I tried to ask questions then, I was told to sit down by the chair.So I asked a few questions tonight, and really, it was like shooting fish in a barrel. Why pass more taxes when our county can save millions just by ending pot eradication efforts? Fewer prisoners and no new taxes, sounds pretty good to everyone. Since 70% of the public either have or do use marijuana, in the end there won't be any funding left for anything but jail, and taxes will be sky high for the 30% paying for incarceration of all us harmless pot smokers. Ask yourself, how many people live in Tuscola County? Now how many are prisoners?High unemployment plus very few jobs means there are alot of poor people going to jail just for being poor. The whole "tax base" will eventually only be the people who are making a killing, literally, off those harmfully abusive drug laws.Our county spends $40,000 on TNU, our local drug war Nazi's. But that doesn't gas up or pay for the helicopter. It doesn't include prosecution, court time, defense attorneys, jail time, or health services for those incarcerated. It also takes out incomes, homeowners, and erodes the taxbase. The families go on welfare, and the taxpayers pay for their kids. Prop U is supposed to raise 1.6 million dollars to pay for vital, but expendable services that would not be in jeapordy if our county was not wasting so much money on the Jah given herb. When it fails, maybe they will listen.The Drug Czar won't debate the Legalization of Marijuanna issue, because its a given the war on weed can never win. 
Free Weed
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Comment #1 posted by JR Bob Dobbs on October 01, 2003 at 18:01:16 PT

The AP and MSNBC dare to compare
A curious report out of the AP compares cannabis laws across Europe:
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