U.S. Drug Czar Being Replaced As States Alter Marijuana Laws
Just days after Illinois became the 20th state to legalize medical marijuana, the White House announce that the head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy is being shipped to a new federal agency.
Gil Kerlikowske is trading his post as the nation’s drug czar to become new U.S. Commissioner of Customs. The move sparks speculation about whether the change will signal an attempt by the Obama administration to more clearly define its approach to marijuana legalization efforts, especially in the wake of new laws adopted by voters in Washington and Colorado, where recreational marijuana use was approved.
Illinois implemented some of the strictest regulations in the nation for medical marijuana. Any move toward a statewide change for legalized recreational use will have to come from state lawmakers, since there is no avenue for a citizen-led referendum.
It’s unclear whether the move is an attempt by the White House to chart a new course for responding to a growing national effort for decriminalizing marijuana.
Kerlikowske has called for marijuana drug users to be treated for addiction and said
legalization was an “extreme approach” since “no state or executive can nullify a statute that’s been passed by Congress.”
Currently, the federal Controlled Substances Act classifies marijuana as a Class I drug, the same as heroin and cocaine.
Meanwhile, a new Gallup poll shows that even as Americans' support for legalizing marijuana has doubled, there’s been relatively little increase throughout the past three decades in the percentage of U.S. adults who say they have tried marijuana.
Thirty-eight percent of Americans admit to having tried marijuana, compared with 34 percent in 1999 and 33 percent in 1985. The latest results are from Gallup's annual Consumption Habits poll, conducted July 10-14.
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