HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Should Marijuana Be Legalized?
Pubdate: Fri, 20 Apr 2001
Source: CNN (US)
Show: CNN Crossfire 19:30
Copyright: 2001 Cable News Network, Inc. A Time Warner Company
Contact:  http://cnn.com/CNN/Programs/crossfire/
Forum: http://cnn.com/chat/crossfire.html
Hosts: Jake Tapper, Tucker Carlson
Guests:  Gary Johnson, Robert Maginnis

SHOULD MARIJUANA BE LEGALIZED?

Activists gather in Washington to fight for the legalization of
marijuana.  Why has one prominent office holder joined the fight for
legalization?

ANNOUNCER: Tonight: Activists gather in Washington to fight for the
legalization of marijuana.  Should pot be legal, and why has one prominent
office holder joined the fight for legalization?

 From Washington, CROSSFIRE.  On the left, Bill Press; on the right,
Robert Novak.  In the CROSSFIRE: Republican Governor Gary Johnson of New
Mexico; and Robert Maginnis, Family Research Council vice president.

JAKE TAPPER, CO-HOST: Good evening and welcome to CROSSFIRE. I'm Jake
Tapper from Salon.com and CNN's new Saturday night show "TAKE 5," sitting
on the left.

Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, Al Gore, Supreme Court Justice Clarence
Thomas, Bill Bradley -- these are but a few of the 70 million Americans who
have smoked marijuana in their lifetimes.  And yet, the so-called war on
drugs persists, at a cost of $7.5 billion annually just to fight pot.  Is
it worth it?  Dare we even have this debate?

Here on CROSSFIRE, we do dare, as the annual conference of the National
Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORMAL, continues in
Washington -- Tucker.

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: Governor Johnson, legalizers such as yourself, or
de-criminalizers, like to beat up on Prohibition.  But the fact is, the
little-known fact that Prohibition, like the current drug war, saved lives.

I just want to read you two statistics.  These were compiled by Professor
Mark Moore of Harvard.  During prohibition when alcohol was not legally
sold, death rates from cirrhosis of the liver dropped 60 percent among
men.  Admission to mental hospitals for alcohol-related causes dropped 50
percent.  Of course, when Prohibition was repealed, alcohol consumption
went up astronomically. Isn't the bottom line here that the drug here,
whatever its problems, saves lives?

GOV. GARY JOHNSON (R), NEW MEXICO: No.  I think you can make the absolute
opposite argument.  And actually, my understanding of Prohibition was is
that you had alcohol use on the real decline, and this was an attempt to
nail in the coffin, Prohibition, and it failed. I mean, people overturned this.

And again, alcohol use is cyclical.  It's up or down.  And so no, I think
you can make a real case that 8,000 people lose their lives every year from
their use of cocaine and heroin.  I think you can make a real case that you
might do away with those deaths because you would control, you'd regulate a
product, and so, theoretically, you do away with overdose deaths.

No, I think you could actually save lives if it weren't for the policies
that we have in place.

CARLSON: That's an argument so clever, I'm not sure I understand it. But
let's get back to the essential question...

JOHNSON: Well, try and understand...

CARLSON: The essential question...

JOHNSON: No, wait, wait...

CARLSON: Hold on, let me just ask you this...

JOHNSON: All right.

CARLSON: You seem to be arguing that if drugs were legal, or controlled, or
at least...

JOHNSON: Yes.

CARLSON: ... de-criminalize, that somehow people would do less of them, but
isn't it obvious that when they're illegal, people do less, because they're
harder to get?

JOHNSON: No, when alcohol was illegal, people died from their use of
alcohol. People went blind from their use of alcohol.  Whether that was
bathtub gin, or wood alcohol, people died drinking alcohol. You don't see
- -- people still die from drinking alcohol, but you really got to work at
it.  My point is...

CARLSON: So we need better dope, is what you're saying?

JOHNSON: Well, my point is no.  An aspirin-sized dose of heroin today may
give three heroin addicts a heroin high.  The same aspirin-sized dose
tomorrow, because the supply has been disrupted it's a different
quality-quantity, may kill those same three heroin addicts. So it's
Prohibition, really, that's the killer here.

TAPPER: Colonel Maginnis...

JOHNSON: Is that -- I mean, do you at least understand the argument?

CARLSON: I understand the words.  I'm not sure they add up to an argument.
But will...

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Colonel Maginnis, before we -- before I start to ask you a couple
questions, I want to clear up a bit of news and rumor that I hear that you
have been interviewed by the Bush administration perhaps to even be the
next drug czar.  Is there any truth at all to this?

ROBERT MAGINNIS, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL: I can neither confirm nor deny that.

TAPPER: Like a good military man.  OK, well, raised on air here on
CNN.  The National Academy of Sciences this month came forward with a
report that said that America spends two times as much money to combat
illegal drugs as the United States spent fighting the Persian Gulf War, yet
there's no evidence, none, that it's working or cost- effective.  Convince
me that this war on drugs is not just a millennial Vietnam.

MAGINNIS: Well, Jake, since 1980, we have cut drug use, current drug use,
in half.  We've cut the number of cocaine users from four million to about
1.3 million.  In fact, the numbers are pretty good in terms -- even in the
last couple of years, the number of adolescents, 12 to 17, using marijuana,
has gone down to 9 percent.  So I think in the past, we've made some good
progress, and there is far more progress to be made, though.

TAPPER: Governor Johnson wants to jump in, of course.

JOHNSON: Well, and I -- these are facts that the drug administration is
putting forward, but if you do the math -- I mean, they are saying there
are 14 million people in this country doing drugs, that that's...

MAGINNIS: 14.9 million.

JOHNSON: Yeah.  We are arresting 1.6 million people a year.  I reject the
fact that we are arresting, like, one out of eight drug users in this
country. I just simply reject it!  We can do the math. And if you do the
math, if you start with 25 million or 26 million, and cut it in half,
that's basically how many people we've arrested over the last 10
years.  Come on!  It doesn't work! Do the math.

TAPPER: He's saying that the people that have stopped using drugs, the way
that they've stopped them is by throwing them into jail?

JOHNSON: Well, if you just did -- if you just counted arrests alone, you
would be talking about 10 million people over the last 10 years. I don't
buy it!  I don't buy it!

MAGINNIS: Only a small percentage actually end up serving time. You have
three-quarters of the people that are serving drug offenders in federal
pens are there because of trafficking.  About the same number in state
penitentiaries. So we're talking mostly trafficking, and those that are
caught in possession of large quantities, for instance, of marijuana.  We
are talking hundreds of pounds, not a few ounces. So, you know, let's stick
with the facts, and those facts are pretty reliable.

CARLSON: Governor Johnson, I think the thing that makes a lot of people
nervous about legalizers such as yourself is that they may be
irresponsible, that they don't care about the consequences of these
theories that they are so in favor of...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Hold on, I have exhibit A...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: I want you to respond to this, Governor Johnson.  I have a quote
from you...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: ... this is a quote -- we pulled this out of "Playboy." This is
what you said to a group of high school students in your state of New
Mexico, and I'm quoting now: "You hear you are going to lose your mind and
go crazy and even die if you smoke marijuana.  You know what? I smoked
marijuana.  And when I smoked it, none of those things happened.  In fact,
it was kind of cool."

Now, drunk driving is kind of cool too in a way, but would you get up and
tell high school kids that they ought to drunk drive?

JOHNSON: No, and that's the distinction that you need to make here. If you
drink and you get in a car, you crossed over the line between acceptable
behavior -- and by the way, at one point that was not acceptable behavior,
that was against the law!  But you drink and you get in a car, you cross
over the line.  You're going to do harm to somebody.

Those same rules need to apply to marijuana, or any other drug. Meaning,
smoking marijuana in the confines of your own home doing no harm, arguably,
to anybody other than yourself.  Do you belong in prison?  No.

CARLSON: But if you don't want kids to do drugs, then why are you telling
them it's cool?  I mean, those are mixed messages, aren't they?

JOHNSON: 54 percent of the graduate class of the year 2000 did illegal
drugs. Tell me how we can...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: I'm sure that it was higher in this class that you addressed and
told them it was cool!

JOHNSON: I'm talking about the mixed message that we send, and that mixed
message that we send is, hey, this is what I was told when I was growing
up.  I don't know about you, but I was told, hey, you smoke marijuana,
you're going to go crazy, you're going to want to commit crime, you're
going to want to do heroin.

Now, when I actually smoked marijuana, you know what?  None of those things
happened.  And so to me, it was kind of a lie!  I'm not alone. I'm one of
80 million Americans, Tucker, and apparently, you want to lock us all
up!  Please! (CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Speaking of mixed messages, I have to say, Colonel Maginnis, the
biggest problem I see with illegality of marijuana is, there is absolutely
no consistency.  Alcohol caused millions of times more death, destruction,
the amount of damage to the United States. Tobacco, one in five deaths in
the U.S. is attributable to tobacco. Why should marijuana, which is
arguably less harmful than alcohol or tobacco, but just doesn't have RJR
Nabisco and, you know, behind it, why should marijuana suffer as opposed to
these two?

MAGINNIS: Well, marijuana is illegal.  I'm not going defend alcohol and
tobacco.  We spend a lot of social costs on them every year.

Recent study out of HHS on cannabis use, addiction basically, over 100,000
Americans are treated for addiction.  One of the things it says in this
report is very compelling: 30 percent of all adolescent auto accidents are
associated with marijuana, 13 percent of all suicides among adolescents and
20 percent of all adolescent homicides. Now, we are talking correlations,
but this is problematic. And it's interesting that 54...

TAPPER: You're saying marijuana causes suicides?

MAGINNIS: I'm not saying it causes, I'm saying it's related to it, and
that's what the government is saying.  Now also, 54 percent, Tucker -- or
Jake, I'm sorry -- of all Americans referred to cannabis treatment last
year were through the judicial system.  In other words, they were forced in
there because of an addiction to cannabis.  Now it's not like cocaine and
heroin, but it is an addictive substance. We do have plenty of evidence of
that, and we need to be concerned about it. Lets not legalize another bad
product like alcohol or tobacco.

TAPPER: Now, I anticipated that was going to be your response, but still
you haven't explained the inconsistency.  We have two drugs that give
millions of dollars to political parties, Republicans, Democrats, two
perfectly legal drugs. I'm sure that...

(CROSSTALK)

MAGINNIS: Legalizing one more it is not going make it any better.

TAPPER: Within the next week all four of us will at least see if not drink
one alcoholic beverage.  Why is that legal and marijuana isn't? I mean
that's really the great hypocrisy.  You tell kids that marijuana is bad,
but alcohol is OK.  And in fact you have President Bush who used to be a
social drinker.  You have Bill Clinton having smoked marijuana.  These
messages are out there, and to pretend that you can just say, well,
marijuana's bad, and alcohol's not, and that's it, well that's patronizing
to kids.  They don't accept that.

MAGINNIS: Jake, in most states like New Mexico, it's illegal for an
adolescent or someone under 21 to legally drink alcohol, and it's illegal
for them in high school to get a hold of tobacco.  Some how they do, in
spite of all these great laws.  Now, if you go ahead and throw the barn
door open on a lot of these drugs that are far more addictive than some of
the ones we are talking about that are now legal, we are going to find
ourselves in a great deal more trouble.

And in fact it was mentioned earlier about the Netherlands.  You know I've
been to the Netherlands, I've talked to the pot distributors as well as the
users.  The use rate among adolescents has gone up significantly since 1986
when they changed the laws.  Very permissive society, but everywhere
they've ventured down this path we find far more problems.

CARLSON: Governor Johnson, you want to respond to that?

JOHNSON: Well, again, use, use is the wrong criteria, all right. And for a
second, look, if we read in the paper tomorrow that alcohol use was up in
this country three percent over the last year, would any of us really care?
No.  We really wouldn't because we understand that alcohol use is
cyclical.  It's up and it's down, but what we care about, is we care about
is D.W.I. up or down?  Is the health consequence of drinking up or down,
domestic violence, violence associated with alcohol use, is that up or
down.  Those are the things we care about.  But when it drug use...

CARLSON: But what about the more subtle effects that are hard to imagine
like ignoring your kids, not getting to work on time and all that?

JOHNSON: When it comes to drugs we shouldn't be so concerned with use. And
by the way, Holland has 60 percent the drug use as that of the United
States, and that's amongst adults and kids and that's for marijuana and
hard drugs. It's a fact.  They have less use, but what we should be
concentrating on, is we should be concentrating on is violent crime up or
down?  Domestic violent crime, property crime up or down, HIV, death
associated, overdose death?.

TAPPER: Not possession, but you're just saying...

JOHNSON: We ought to be concerned with reducing the harm that is associated
with these drugs, and not so much use.

MAGINNIS: Yes, well, we should be concerned about that however when we
incarcerate people whether in New Mexico or elsewhere we find a high
incidence of drugs in their system whether or not they're alcohol or
illicit drugs.  And that fact we have to continue to deal with, but by
making more drugs available as some people would all we are going to is
feed that social problem which is already at a high level.

(CROSSTALK)

JOHNSON: How can you make drugs anymore available than what they're already
available?  You can't, you know, again, this is crazy. Arresting 1.6
million people a year 800,000 of those arrests are for marijuana, half
those marijuana arrests are Hispanic, so they're terribly discriminatory.
CARLSON: Governor Johnson you ask the key question: How do we make more
drugs more available?  And that's one of the many questions we'll bat
around when we return on CROSSFIRE. We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.  The debate over drugs has shifted.  We
all agree they're harmful, but we are still arguing about what to do about
it. Is the lock 'em up drug war still worth pursuing, or is it time to
decriminalize, regulate and offer better treatment for addiction?

Tonight, passionate voices from both sides of the debate: Republican
Governor Gary Johnson of New Mexico, and Colonel Robert Maginnis, vice
president of the Family Research Council.  Jake Tapper of CNN's TAKE FIVE
is sitting in on the left tonight for Bill Press -- Jake.

TAPPER: Colonel Maginnis, let me tell you -- let me give you some
illustrated examples -- living in Washington, D.C. -- of how seriously
young people under the age of 40 take the criminalization of marijuana.

I have been at parties in Washington D.C. where the following two
individuals, I have seen them first hand, smoke marijuana cigarettes: One,
a Republican Southern Congressional candidate, conservative, except on that
issue, except when it came to himself -- I'm sure he was running out on the
campaign trail and talking about how tough the penalty should be, and two,
a former employee of Barry McCaffrey's drug office.

People know -- people under the age of 40 know that marijuana is no more
harmful than alcohol or tobacco, and when drug czars claim that it is it
falls on deaf ears.  Do you not see that as a truism?

MAGINNIS: Well, I see what a truism, you know, that we have some hypocrites
in the Drug Czar's office as well as on Capitol Hill if they're in fact
going out suggesting that these are not bad substances.  There's plenty of
evidence, and it's very deep, on the chronic problems associated with, you
know, what happens to the brain, the lung, the liver, etcetera.

You know, what we need to take into account here are these terrible mixed
messages.  Last year was the sixth year in a row in which adolescents in
this country said that drugs were the most pressing problem facing
them.  And in fact one out of four American families say that drugs are
impacting their family in a serious way.

These are public policy issues that we are debating tonight, Jake, but they
need to be dealt with in a serious manner and I certainly hope that the
Bush Administration takes this message to heart and really begins to become
aggressive.

TAPPER: Let's talk about the Bush Administration for a second, because
President Bush completely evaded this question on the campaign trail,
amazingly got away with it because of his rather docile press corps, but he
never answered the question.  Has he ever done illegal drugs? Shouldn't
this be a question that politicians who are enforcing laws or are maybe
interviewing individuals such as yourself to be the drug czar?  Shouldn't
people be forced to answer this question just to be honest about whether or
not these drugs really just ruin lives willy-nilly?

MAGINNIS: Well, certainly they should talk about the ruinous nature of
drugs, alcohol and tobacco.

TAPPER: But personal nature?

MAGINNIS: Well, I don't know that it's necessarily germane, especially if
it's many years ago.  If it's recent drug use, and you're you'll of a
sudden out in the forefront saying, "Bad drugs," but in the background as
you describe, Jake, they're using it, I think that's terrible hypocrisy and
it ought to be exposed.  But having experienced drugs as some have and have
and going forward and saying this is a bad experience I had when I was 15,
and I'm not going to do it again, or if they send a bad message that it
didn't bother me, in fact, you know, I thought it was cool to do, as Bill
Clinton did in college, I think that that adds credibility to the argument
that we ought to change drug policy, and that's a bad message for our kids.

CARLSON: Governor Johnson, I've heard you make the case many times that
government ought to be regulating drug distribution.  And I'm just
wondering as a Libertarian, why would you want the government in on the
drug trade? Especially when that would mix the efficiency of the D.M.V.
with the squalor of drug addiction and it wouldn't do anything for anybody,
as a Libertarian.

JOHNSON: If I were the dictator, and of course, I'm not the dictator...

TAPPER: Not yet.

CARLSON: Oh, go ahead, binge.

(CROSSTALK)

JOHNSON: ... if I were the dictator and I had to set up distribution for
marijuana tomorrow it would be along the same lines as alcohol. And
certainly I think you could piggyback a license on top of an alcohol
distribution.  Now, again, kids, I think, will tell you, alcohol is harder
to come by than weed. And why?  Well, alcohol is a controlled substance.

Certainly they will tell you that legal prescription drugs are impossible
to come by without a prescription, and again, what we are talking about
here is control, regulation, taxation...

CARLSON: What we're talking about is a huge new bureaucracy for the federal
government to get involved in -- dope distribution.

JOHNSON: Is liquor, is alcohol a huge government bureaucracy? No, it's not.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Let's get to a specific example.  Great Britain a number of years
ago decided, look, we have all these heroin addicts, why don't we get into
this and manage it.  But in fact, you see in places like Scotland which has
this, the number of heroin addicts has not dropped. Heroine addicts now can
just get free heroin.  Something I think you've come out in favor of.

JOHNSON: Tucker, I talked to the chief of police from Zurich, Switzerland.
This was about four months ago in Albuquerque.  What he said is, hey, in
Zurich we came out with a heroin maintenance program. Free heroin, free
heroine for a heroin addict.  As a heroin addict you had to go get a
prescription to get the heroin.  You have to go to a clinic to ingest the
heroin.  This is the chief of police of Zurich talking.  He said the idea
was, was that they were going to reduce property crime, violent crime, HIV,
hepatitis C, overdose, fewer nonviolent criminals behind bars.

He said as law enforcement I could not have been more opposed to what they
were going to do in Zurich.  I mean, this was 180 degrees different than
what we had been doing.  I along with all my friends who were also law
enforcement.  He said I am here to tell you today that this has surpassed
anybody's wildest dreams with regard to how much better Zurich is.  This is
the chief of police of Zurich.

Now, Colonel if you're going say the chief of police of Zurich was lying,
tell me, please, please.  Was he pulling my leg?  Was he not the chief of
police of Zurich?

MAGINNIS: I'm sure he was, and I know who you're talking about. I've gone
Switzerland every year at least once over the last six years and visited
those very heroin clinics.  I've talked to the government officials, the
doctors, and the addicts themselves.  You know, unfortunately we have found
a group of addicts, about a thousand, that they've kept on heroin.  Their
health has not radically increased, their employment certainly hasn't
changed.  They're being subsidized, and you know, actually the drug use in
that culture, they're looking at legalization of a whole bunch of drugs
now, is just thrown to the wind. They are going increase drug use and then
- -- in Switzerland. Those are the facts.

JOHNSON: Why would they do that if it didn't work?

CARLSON: Jake and I are going to have to go to Switzerland and do our own
fact-finding mission to find out what's happening in Zurich.  We will be
back in just a moment with our closing comments, get to the bottom of
booze, cigarettes, and alcohol when we return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON: Now, Jake, you made the same argument that Gary Johnson makes:
this hypocrisy argument -- we tolerate cigarettes and booze, why can't we
tolerate pot?  It strikes me, that's an interesting argument, but it's not
an argument for legalization.  It's an argument about pot and cigarettes
and alcohol. TAPPER: You know what argument we didn't get a chance to talk
about because of such a heated debate between the two gentlemen that I wish
we had is the racial disparities between how punishments for these crimes,
for drug crimes, are meted out.  Blacks and Hispanics are 20 percent of
marijuana smokers in this country, and 58 percent of the offenders under
federal law.  Wow.  In prison -- thrown in prison, 58 percent, three times.

CARLSON: Happily we don't judge laws that way.  We decide on what laws we
ought to have, and then we don't work backward from the effect.

TAPPER: No, but there are applied disproportionately in the minority
communities.

CARLSON: Well, that's a question for police departments, not legislatures.

TAPPER: From the left -- at least the left of Tucker -- I'm Jake Tapper.
Good night from CROSSFIRE.

CARLSON: And from the right I'm Tucker Carlson.  Join us again next time
for another edition of CROSSFIRE.

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