Pubdate: Wed, 21 May 2003
Source: Orange County Register, The (CA)
Copyright: 2003 The Orange County Register
Cited: Marijuana Policy Project ( )
Bookmark: (Cannabis)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)
Bookmark: (Ballot Initiatives)
Bookmark: (Question 9 (NV))
Bookmark: (Walters, John)
Bookmark: (ONDCP Media Campaign)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - California)


Perhaps one has to give some die-hard prohibitionists points for brazenness 
and for honesty of a sort. Last Thursday, a subcommittee of the House 
Government Reform Committee specifically authorized the "drug czar" to use 
taxpayer money in political campaigns - as long as it is "to oppose an 
attempt to legalize the use" of any currently illegal drug.

Previously, the "drug czar," formally the head of the White House Office of 
National Drug Control Policy, was legally barred from using the money 
appropriated for the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign for "partisan 
political purposes."

Drug-war leaders have wiggled around this requirement for years, of course. 
In 1996, then-drug czar Barry McCaffrey, with his repeated trips to meet 
with officials and express alarm, was almost the entire campaign against 
California's Proposition 215, the medical marijuana initiative approved by 
voters. Advocates complained about the possible use of taxpayer money to 
influence a political campaign. Drug-policy spokesmen said nothing 
incorrect was done and that Gen. McCaffrey was doing it on his own time, 
but never furnished documentation.

Last fall in Nevada, there was a ballot initiative to virtually 
decriminalize marijuana. Current drug-policy leader John Walters spent 
considerable time in the state seeking places to speak and media interviews 
in opposition to the initiative. The Marijuana Policy Project in 
Washington, D.C., has filed complaints with both federal and state 
authorities, alleging that Mr. Walters used taxpayers' funds to influence 
an election and demanding that he be required at least to file a campaign 
finance report declaring how much money was spent and where it came from. 
So far they have gotten no response.

So some members of the House thought it would be smart to specifically 
authorize Mr. Walters to use as much as he deems desirable of the $1.02 
billion he will be receiving over the next five years for TV ads to oppose 
grass-roots efforts to reform drug policy.

This would be a profoundly corrupt and corrupting policy. In a democratic 
(or republican) society, the core idea is that the government is supposed 
to work for the people. To have the permanent bureaucracy using the 
people's money to influence the people's votes is manifestly unfair and 
thoroughly backward.

We don't know whether a move to give the drug czar a billion-dollar 
political slush fund reflects insecurity over what the people might do if 
not properly instructed by their betters or the simple arrogance of the 
longtime political-bureaucratic operator. Whatever the motivation, this is 
bad policy.

The full Government Reform Committee will consider the bill with the 
slush-fund provision tomorrow. It should eliminate it immediately.
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MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart