HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Should Marijuana
Pubdate: Thu, 19 Apr 2001
Source: National Broadcasting Company (US)
Show: Hardball With Chris Matthews (8:00 Pm Et)
Copyright: 2001 CNBC, Inc.
Host: Chris Matthews
Guests: Governor Gary Johnson, Joseph Califano


Well, if the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over 
again and expecting different results, is it fair to say our war on drugs 
is crazy?  That's the position of New Mexico's two-term Republican 
governor, Gary Johnson, a triathlete and former marijuana user who wants 
marijuana legalized --not decriminalized, legalized--and syringes made 
available for people to buy in pharmacies.  However, since a government 
survey shows drug use among young people actually dropped from more than 11 
percent to less than 10 percent between 1997 and 1998, the latest numbers 
available, isn't that a sign we may be winning the war against drugs?

With me to discuss that question, New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, and Joe 
Califano, president of the National Center for Addiction and Substance 
Abuse. He's the former secretary of HEW under Lyndon Johnson.

God, you look young, Joe, for working way back then.  That's 100 years ago.

Let's talk to the governor.  Let's get it straight.  You want to legalize 

Governor GARY JOHNSON (Republican, New Mexico): Legalize marijuana, yes, 
and adopt harm reduction strategies on these other drugs.  When it comes to 
heroin, you've got a heroin maintenance program in Zurich, Switzerland, 
that, for example, the chief of police of Zurich, whom I talked to about 
four months ago--he said, 'Hey, they adopted a heroin maintenance program 
in Zurich which--basically free heroin.  You're an addict, you go to a 
doctor, you get a prescription, you go to a clinic, you ingest the heroin.' 
He said the idea was--was that we were going to reduce property crime, 
violent crime, HIV, hepatitis C, death, overdose, fewer non-violent 
criminals behind bars.

He said, 'I could have not been more opposed to that when I heard about 
that, nor any of my friends who are also in law enforcement.' He said, 'I'm 
here to tell you that this has worked beyond anybody's wildest imagination.'

MATTHEWS: How's it work?  You go into some place and--and--and sh--and 
shoot up and just hang around there for a while where you can't hurt anybody?

Gov. JOHNSON: Apparently.  Apparently.  Apparently.  And, again...

MATTHEWS: It's like an old opium den.

Gov. JOHNSON: L--like an opium den.  That's my understanding, yes. But, 
again, you--managing a situation.  There's not overdose death not anywhere 
near what it was before because, again, it's a controlled substance so you 
don't have the spread of HIV, hepatitis C...

MATTHEWS: Would it bother you if you were flying on a plane as a passenger 
and you knew that the pilot was zonked that weekend on--on marijuana?

Gov. JOHNSON: Well, totally.  And I've always...

MATTHEWS: Or maybe a couple days before even.

Gov. JOHNSON: Well, I--I've always advocated--I've always advocated that 
employers should be able to discriminate against drug users.  But as a drug 
user, as a mar--as a smoker of marijuana, you choose whether or not you 
want to be an airline pilot or whether or not you want to...

MATTHEWS: Well, let's get an honest ...(unintelligible) joking about--a 
surgeon--would you want a surgeon to have used marijuana a couple days 
before he operates on you?

Gov. JOHNSON: Absolute--the obvious--I mean, obviously astronauts...

MATTHEWS: Or--or a train conductor in New York City when he ca--has to stop 
the train?

Gov. JOHNSON: Well, obviously you don't want...

MATTHEWS: Or an air traffic controller?  Aren't there so many jobs like that?

Gov. JOHNSON: Well, one of the problems, Chris, with--with drug testing 
today is drug testing measures the presence of drugs. Certainly d--we don't 
want anybody impaired using drugs.  But I--I think clearly we've got 
millions of people in this country who are a--who are doctors, lawyers, 
engineers, scientists, entrepreneurs who have smoked pot. Again, that's not 
to condone use.

MATTHEWS: Have smoked it recently, or like when they were 23 years old, or 
22 years old?

Gov. JOHNSON: Well--well, or recently.  I mean, this is--this is just a 
fact of life.  I mean, we're talking about 80 million Americans who have 
smoked pot; 800,000 arrests a year for marijuana.

MATTHEWS: Would you have said this--what you're saying right now--if you 
were running for re-election in New Mexico?

Gov. JOHNSON: Well, what I've said since the very beginning is the war on 
drugs is a miserable failure.  We can't continue to arrest and incarcerate 
our way out of this.  I don't have the answers.  This is what I said to 
start with. And, by the way, Secretary of State George Shultz called me up 
about five weeks ago, and he and I basically launched into this 
conversation the same way.  And that was: Look, the war on drugs is a 
failure.  Let's talk about alternatives, but included in those alternatives 
we're going to have to talk about legalization.  This is George Shultz 
talking to me.

MATTHEWS: So just to correct something I said before, I said that 
you're--you're for legalizing hard drugs.  You are for legalizing 
marijuana. And your position on drugs like cocaine and heroin is what?

Gov. JOHNSON: Harm reduction--harm reduction strategies.  Let's reduce 
violent crime, property crime.  Let's reduce the health impacts, so we're 
talking about hepatitis C, HIV, overdose, death.  Let's spend more money on 

MATTHEWS: But nothing on--nothing for carrying.  No--no criminalization for 
carrying.  Don't put a guy away for that.

Gov. JOHNSON: Well, let's move away from a criminal model to a medical model.

MATTHEWS: Let's go to go--Joe Califano.  Mr. Califano, Mr. Secretary, I 
know you have strong feelings on this.  What do you have to critique what 
you've just heard?

Mr. JOSEPH CALIFANO (Center on Addiction & Substance Abuse): Well, one, 
with respect to marijuana, marijuana is a dangerous drug.  One, with 
respect to the war on drugs, we've done a lot better.  I mean, we have half 
the people using drugs that were using drugs in the late 1970s. That's 
number one.

Number two, we have experience with legalized marijuana.  Alaska did it. It 
was a disaster up there.  They had an explosion in drug use, and they--and 
they repealed that law.

Number three, marijuana is a dangerous drug, it--it--and particularly for 
kids.  We have 89--almost 90,000 kids in this country, teens and children, 
in treatment for marijuana dependence and abuse.  We have only 20,000 kids 
in that age group in--in treatment for alcohol.  What does marijuana 
do?  It sava...

MATTHEWS: It--al--alcohol is addictive, Joe.  We know that.  Alcohol is 
definitely addictive for a lot of people, not everybody.

Mr. CALIFANO: That's right.  And--and...

MATTHEWS: Is marijuana addictive, Governor, do you believe?

Mr. CALIFANO: Absolutely.  The National Institute on Drug Abuse...


Mr. CALIFANO: ...tells you mar--wait--wait a minute, governor.  The 
National--I'm not--the National Institute on Drug Abuse in this country, 
scientists, tell you that marijuana is an addictive substance for many, 
many people.

Gov. JOHNSON: Joe, I happen to be one of the 80 million Americans who--who 
have done pot.  And--and it's clearly not addictive.

Mr. CALIFANO: All right.  Listen, I'm one--I'm one of the hundred million 
American--I'm one of the hundred million Americans who smoked cigarettes, 
and I quit smoking.

Gov. JOHNSON: Well, and that's--and...

Mr. CALIFANO: But let's be realistic.  It may not have been addictive to 
you. But let me...

Gov. JOHNSON: And--and, again, this is not to condone the use of any of 
these products.

Mr. CALIFANO: No, I understand that.  But...

Gov. JOHNSON: It's just to say: Should we continue to arrest and 
incarcerate this country over this issue?

Mr. CALIFANO: All right.  Let's--let's--let's...

Gov. JOHNSON: No, we can't continue to do that.

Mr. CALIFANO: Let's--let's also deal with...

Gov. JOHNSON: And--and I've got another one for you.

Mr. CALIFANO: Let's--let's also--wait a minute, governor.  Governor, give 
me a chance to finish, please.

Gov. JOHNSON: Joe--Joe...

MATTHEWS: Give Joe a minute.

Mr. CALIFANO: Please.  One, what marijuana does is savage--it--it affects 
short-term memory.  It affects attention span.  This issue is all about 
children.  And anything that makes drugs more available to the children of 
this country is a dangerous thing.  And when we have a situation--you know, 
we want people to take care of themselves.  You have--you have seat belt 
laws in--in New Mexico.  You have helmet laws for--for motorcyclists.  We 
should not make these drugs more available.

As far as heroin maintenance is concerned, we have that in England. England 
has the highest heroin rate in the world right now.

MATTHEWS: OK.  Well, we--we have--we have things that are done in this 
country that we tolerate.  We tolerate abortion rights, although a lot of 
people think it's wrong.  We tolerate--but i--isn't this a civil liberties 

Gov. JOHNSON: Well, l--let's use seat belts.

MATTHEWS: I mean, seat belts--a lot of people don't like seat belts or helmets.

Gov. JOHNSON: Let--let's use--l--let's use seat--let's use seat belts as an 
example, all right?  First off, it's not criminal if you don't buckle 
up.  And in New Mexico, we have a mandatory seat belt law.  A lot of states 
do. Ninety-four percent of the people comply with seat belt law. 
Well--well, guess what? What if only 50 percent of the people complied with 
the seat belt law?  Would we make it criminal? At what point would we 
change the law?  When 50 percent of the people weren't complying with the 
law and we were spending half of law enforcement, half of 
courts--half--half--half of...

MATTHEWS: Joe, would you criminalize seat belt non-use?  You wouldn't do 
that?  I guess--I guess that's a whimsical question, right?

Mr. CALIFANO: That is--that is a whimsical question. But...

Gov. JOHNSON: Yeah, but at--but at what point would we change the law if we 
criminalized it?

Mr. CALIFANO: Let--let--let--please stay on the issue of marijuana 
and--and--and on the issue of--and on the issue of drugs.

Gov. JOHNSON: Well, Joe, you were talking about seat belts.

Mr. CALIFANO: We--we need to do everything we can to keep drugs out of the 
hands of kids.  We know that if a child gets through age 21 without 
smoking, using illegal drugs or abusing alcohol, that kid is home-free. We 
have shown no ability to keep the legal drugs--nicotine and alcohol--out of 
the hands of our children.  We have millions more kids using alcohol, which 
is the number one drug problem they've got, than we have smoking 
marijuana.  Legalizing marijuana would open that whole field to kids.  Once 
you legalize, Governor, you allow all the marketing to take place, all the 
guys out there that'll sell it. You've got to be realistic about that.

Gov. JOHNSON: I--I think you can make a case that just the opposite would 

Mr. CALIFANO: And our kids will get deeply into that stuff.

Gov. JOHNSON: I--I...

MATTHEWS: Well, wouldn't the big cigarette companies go to marijuana to 
make money?

Gov. JOHNSON: Well--well, first of all, kids will tell you...

MATTHEWS: Wouldn't they?  They're already geared up.  They just put 
marijuana in those rolls and start putting--coming out with 
cigarettes--j--marijuana cigarettes tomorrow morning.

Gov. JOHNSON: Well, first of all, I don't think it's ever going to be 
legal--first--never going to be legal for kids to do marijuana; never going 
to be legal to sell marijuana to kids...

Mr. CALIFANO: It's not legal for kids to smoke cigarettes; it's not legal 
for kids to drink beer.

Gov. JOHNSON: Right.  But you--but you've got 54 percent of the graduating 
class of the year 2000 that is--that have done illegal drugs. Are we--do we 
really want to put them all in mandatory rehabilitation? Do we really want...

Mr. CALIFANO: Gov--Governor...

Gov. JOHNSON: lock them all up?  No.  And kids will tell you...

Mr. CALIFANO: Governor, if you look at the House--wait.

Gov. JOHNSON: Now let me finish, Joe.  Wait.  Come on now, let me finish 
here.  Kids will tell you that marijuana is harder to come by than--that 
it's easier to come by than alcohol.  And that's because alcohol is a 
controlled substance.  Ask kids about getting a legal prescription drug 
without a prescription.  A, it's impossible.  Again, I'm talking about 
controlling, regulating, taxing substances that right now are in the bl...

MATTHEWS: What age would you be allowed to use marijuana under your law, if 
you passed it?

Gov. JOHNSON: Well, und--under mine, if I were the dictator--and, of 
course, I'm not the dictator...


Gov. JOHNSON: ...but if I was, 21 years old.  I'd model it...

MATTHEWS: Twenty-one?

Gov. JOHNSON: I'd model it similar to alcohol.

Mr. CALIFANO: OK.  OK.  And look--and look at the kids that are drinking 
alcohol and drinking beer.  We have--85 percent to 90 percent of the kids 
in high schools in this country have had a drink.  Your number of 54 
percent is incorrect by the National Household Drug Survey, Governor. We're 
talking about maybe 20 percent of our kids have tried drugs.

Gov. JOHNSON: Well, here--here's--here's another statistic...

Mr. CALIFANO: Wait--wait a minute.

Gov. JOHNSON: No, Chris, you've got to listen to this.

Mr. CALIFANO: Wait a minute.

MATTHEWS: Wait, let him finish.

Gov. JOHNSON: All right.  All right.  All right.

Mr. CALIFANO: Governor--governor, just let me finish, please.  With respect 
to cigarettes, we have, you know, 30 percent, 35 percent of the kids 
smoking cigarettes.  Now those substances are illegal, for cigarettes for 
kids under--under--under 18, and in states alcohol for kids under 21.  Yet, 
we have millions of kids who are binge drinking, who get hooked on those 
substances. Those are the most vulnerable years.  I want laws and systems 
and standards that help keep this stuff out of the hands of kids.

MATTHEWS: OK.  .  Does anybody--I'm going to ask you both a total non-moral 
question, a totally non-legal question.  Gentlemen, does either of you know 
a successful grownup, your age, our age generally, who has succeeded in 
life along their career lines and--and uses marijuana regularly?  Do you 
know anybody like that?

Gov. JOHNSON: Yes, I know countless--countless numbers...


Gov. JOHNSON: ...that still smoke pot and...

MATTHEWS: Really?  Really?  What a crowd you run in.

Gov. JOHNSON: ...and I--I deem successful.  I'm not alone in this.

MATTHEWS: I think that--Joe...

Gov. JOHNSON: I'm not alone in this.

Mr. CALIFANO: I--I don't...

MATTHEWS: ...(unintelligible) from out West.  I don't know them around here.

Mr. CALIFANO: I don't know...


Mr. CALIFANO: I don't know anybody in the--in the--in the world of law I've 
worked in and the world of government I've worked in and now in the world 
of a foundation dealing with this problem--I do not know anyone that 
regularly smokes marijuana that has been successful.  So I--I--I just live 
in a different world.

Gov. JOHNSON: Oh, it's just...

Mr. CALIFANO: And I--I do think--I really--I also want to drive home the 
fact that it is--it is critical to say that--not to use harm reduction as a 
cover for making even harder substances like heroin and cocaine more 
available to people. Charlie Rangel used to...

Gov. JOHNSON: Well, ...(unintelligible)...

MATTHEWS: Wait.  Let's go--let's go...

Mr. CALIFANO: When--when Mayor Lindsey...

MATTHEWS: You just turned the corner there, Joe.  You just turned the 
corner on the conversation.  We've got to get back there.  One paragraph at 
a time. I'm going to ask you, Gary--Governor, it seems to me that you're 
arguing a really strong case here.  If you--if you legalize drugs, legalize 
marijuana in--in New Mexico, would you take moral responsibility for what 
happened?  I mean, suppose people went out and did something when they were 
stoned or--or they--they didn't do their jobs and there was...

Gov. JOHNSON: Well, look--look--look...

MATTHEWS: Would you feel responsible for what happened personally?

Gov. JOHNSON: Well, relating this to alcohol, all right?


Gov. JOHNSON: You--you drink alcohol.  I'm going to say that that's 
acceptable behavior, and let's not forget that at one point in this 
country's history that was also criminal, at least the manufacture, 
distribution, all right?


Gov. JOHNSON: But y--you have a drink in the bar and--and you get out from 
the bar, you've had a couple of drinks...

MATTHEWS: But there was booze before Prohibition.

Gov. JOHNSON: go--you--you go into--you go get into your 
car--you just crossed over the line.


Gov. JOHNSON: That--that should be criminal.  You're--you're--you 
potentially can do harm to somebody else.  That's the same law...

MATTHEWS: What kind of sharp...

Gov. JOHNSON: ...line we ought to draw with regard...

MATTHEWS: ...decision-making is being made by people who are stoned? They 
can't decide whether to get in the car if they're stoned.  They don't have 
the ability to make that decision.

Gov. JOHNSON: Well--well, but a--again, Chris, you--you're--no, let's 
not--let's not forget here that we've got this many people who are doing 
illegal drugs.

MATTHEWS: Yeah.  Right.

Gov. JOHNSON: People that smoke marijuana, for the most part, are smoking 
marijuana just like others have cocktails, in the evenings. 
They're--they're--you know...

MATTHEWS: I--I--I guess--I--I'm hanging around this sort of Catholic East 
Coast crowd, I guess.  Anyway, thank you very much, Governor Gary Johnson, 
a very bold man; and Joe Califano.  Thanks for coming back, Joe. Please 
come back again.

Up next, all the day's political buzz with the--USA Today's Tom Squitieri 
and Time magazine's Tamala Edwards.  You're watching HARDBALL.


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