Pubdate: Mon, 03 Feb 2014
Source: Washington Times (DC)
Copyright: 2014 The Washington Times, LLC.
Author: Robert B. Charles
Page: B3


Could Drugs Play a Role in 'Fundamentally Transforming' The Nation?

First, President Obama says marijuana is "not very different from
cigarettes" and no more "dangerous" than alcohol, just "a waste of
time" and "not very healthy." One imagines that he thinks of pot as
somewhere between too many potato chips and fast driving.

The president's not-so-subtle message is "go ahead, just use it."

Never mind that pot is a Schedule One narcotic, meaning a drug
assessed as possessing "high potential for abuse," based on science.
Never mind that this narcotic has landed hundreds of thousands in
treatment during the past 10 years, accelerated emergency room
incidents, according to the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, and raised levels of drugged driving, domestic abuse and
marijuana-associated crime, according to state and federal sources.

Days later, the Maryland mall shooter, who killed three, including
himself, turns out to have been a marijuana user, according to police.
Do you recall the deadly Columbine shooting and marijuana link? Or
perhaps The New York Times article "Violent Crimes Undercut
Marijuana's Mellow Image" in 2001? Or studies that have linked pot use
to violence?

Never mind. Last week, Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. indicated he
may waive money-laundering penalties for banks processing "marijuana
money," and testified that while "all drugs are dangerous," he places
alcohol with the Schedule One narcotics.

I usually am not cynical, but let's just be for a moment.

Let's imagine the impossible. Suppose you wanted to increase national
employment numbers by increasing legitimate business for
emergency-room doctors and nurses, ambulance and tow companies,
addiction treatment centers and funeral homes, psychiatrists and
behavioral psychologists, school counselors, law enforcement officers
and social workers.

Suppose that you could do this while gaining political favor with
millions of Americans either addicted to or abusing illegal drugs, in
the process setting up a sequence of events that naturally produced
several million new drug abusers and addicts (and voters) every year
for the indefinite future, from whom you could regularly seek added
political support.

Suppose, in addition, that you could satisfy a long-standing demand
from several billionaires who have contributed handsomely to your
political fortunes and to your party's races nationwide in recent
years, and who are poised to do so again in future campaigns.

Now suppose that you could do all this and satisfy a major foreign
country's long-standing appeal for change of U.S. policy, thus
allowing America's third-largest trading partner to celebrate
America's open-mindedness - and begin legally transshipping
substantial quantities of addictive drugs into America's communities,
schools, homes and workplaces. By encouraging straight Americans to
begin using the drugs, the new industry would grow. The drug would
increasingly show up on U.S. highways, boosting business for
hospitals, addiction centers and funeral homes.

Suppose all this could be done in the name of stimulating a new,
homegrown business, a business that might permit former criminals to
come out of hiding, allowing them to commit predatory crimes in the
open, cheerfully targeting guileless children, teenagers and
unsuspecting parents, as they raised the burden on health care and law
enforcement personnel, and on local education and civic leaders.

Further imagine that you could push this new criminal legalization by
fiat, encouraging your political allies to create a few state laws
that upended federal law, and then waiving federal law in favor of
these state laws - in effect subverting the Constitution's federal
pre-emption clause by inverting it in favor of state pre-emption. When
challenged, you could minimize the public danger in a casual
interview. You could then speak passionately of state sovereignty, and
have your attorney general waive banking regulations to allow
legalized money laundering for the first time. You could suspend
prosecution of banks that processed illegal drug money.

You could then assert that nothing was changing, that you were
ensuring the public was safer, that polls opposing you were
inaccurate, and that prevention, treatment, law enforcement and
educational experts were overreacting. To chill further discussion,
you could open some criminal leaks investigations into press coverage
that challenged you, and subtly threaten the public with added
surveillance in the name of public safety.

You could cow Congress by noting that enforcing criminal laws is very
costly, and besides, you "have a pen" for executive orders.

As the legalization of crime accelerated, accelerating drug use and
addiction, betraying tens of millions of heartbroken parents,
teachers, emergency-room workers, insurers and health care
professionals, you could take refuge behind the difficulty in
measuring drugged driving (accidents and fatalities), commiserate with
bereft and inconsolable parents, press Congress for more money and a
single-payer federal health care system.

You could highlight international praise for your permissive foreign
policy, and downplay the enormous public safety, health care and
national security risks engendered in your approach.

Then, having sowed the seeds of a crisis, you could explore the value
of removing the two-term limit.

All this is far too cynical, though.

No president would ever start America down such a destructive path,
even for political, personal or transformational reasons.

No president would ever put innocent American families through such an
act of collective tragedy, public deception, political indifference or
autocratic assertion (and concession) of federal powers.

This is just an imaginary sequence - impossible from start to


Robert B. Charles is former assistant secretary of state for
international narcotics and law enforcement in the George W. Bush
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