HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Meet The Press
Pubdate: Sun, 22 Apr 2001
Source: National Broadcasting Company (US)
Show: NBC News - Meet The Press
Copyright: 2001 National Broadcasting Company, Inc
Moderator: Tim Russert, NBC News
Guests: Governor GARY JOHNSON, (R-N.M.), General BARRY McCAFFREY Former 
Director, National Drug Control Policy Office


MR. TIM RUSSERT: Our issues this Sunday: protests continue against the Bush 
administration's environmental policies on global warming, arsenic levels 
in drinking water and drilling in the arctic. On this 31st annual Earth 
Day, our guest, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Christine 
Todd Whitman. Then:

(Excerpt from "Traffic")

MR. RUSSERT: There is a growing and emotional national debate over the 
so-called war on drugs.  Should we consider legalizing drugs? Yes, says the 
Republican governor of New Mexico, Gary Johnson.  No, says the former drug 
czar, General Barry McCaffrey. Johnson and McCaffrey square off.

And: in our political roundtable, we're joined by President Reagan's deputy 
chief of staff, Mike Deaver, author of his new book, "A Different Drummer." 
He'll talk about the legacy of Ronald Reagan with former Carter chief of 
staff Hamilton Jordan, author of his memoir, "No Such Thing As A Bad Day."

MR. RUSSERT: And we are back. Gentlemen, welcome both. General McCaffrey, 
let me start with you just to get your reaction to a couple of 
things.  First, John Walter is being nominated to be the president's new 
drug czar. Do you know him?


MR. RUSSERT: Do you approve of that nomination?

GEN. McCAFFREY: Well, I think-I'm going to watch this very carefully. He 
had opposed the media campaign, which I was concerned about.  I think he's 
focused too much on interdiction. I hope he educates himself very carefully 
on prevention and treatment as an essential part of the strategy. But 
there's good people in government. And I'm sure they'll come around. A 
Republican Congress gave me a 55-percent increase in prevention funding. So 
they're going to have to take into account the views of Rob Portman and 
people of that nature.

MR. RUSSERT: Yesterday, a Peruvian plane shot down a plane with 
missionaries in it; American woman and her child were killed. U.S. 
surveillance was part of that operation. It was thought to be a drug plane. 
Your reaction?

GEN. McCAFFREY: Terrible tragedy. Beautiful people helping the Peruvian 
poor along the Amazon River. They've got to look into it and get the facts. 
But remember, the Peruvians have reduced coca cultivation by 65 percent in 
the last five years. Huge reductions. This problem kills 52,000 people a 
year in the United States. We ought to be judicious and find out what 
happened first and correct it.

MR. RUSSERT: Let me turn to the discussion at hand. Governor Johnson, 
welcome. What do you think of the so-called war on drugs?

GOV. GARY JOHNSON, (R-NM): Well, I think I'm going to echo what most people 
in this country believe and that is that it's a failure. Seventy-four 
percent of the people in this country believe that it's a failure. I think 
there's one message that the general and I can agree on, and I'll say this 
numerous times on this show. Don't do drugs. All right? Don't do 
drugs.  Don't drink. I'm somebody who's dedicated myself to physical 
fitness. I haven't had a drink in 13 years. Been a great choice. And 
certainly don't smoke tobacco.

But can we continue to arrest 1.6 million people a year in this country on 
drug-related crime? I don't think so. I think that we need to legalize 
marijuana.  We need to adopt harm reduction strategies on all these other 
drugs. We have to look at the situation and determine if you're smoking 
marijuana in the confines of your own home, doing no harm to anyone 
arguably other than yourself, do you fundamentally belong in jail for that? 
I say no, you don't and that we need to draw a line of distinction when it 
comes to marijuana use. We need to move away from a criminal model on these 
other drugs to a medical model. We need to move to a situation where you do 
drugs, you smoke marijuana and you do harm, that ought to be criminal. 
Similar to having a drink, having too many drinks in a bar, acceptable 
behavior. Walking out in the parking lot, getting in your car, driving your 
car. You've just crossed over the line. That should be criminal.

MR. RUSSERT: Do you believe that smoking marijuana is addictive?

GOV. JOHNSON: I do not believe that it's addictive. I have smoked 
marijuana, and it is not addictive.

MR. RUSSERT: General McCaffery.

GEN. McCAFFREY: You know, Everybody is entitled to their own opinions. And 
I certainly respect the governor for forcefully expressing his. You're not 
entitled to your own facts. And getting ready for a show like this, you 
want to know what's going on in drug abuse, you've got to go to the 
National Institute of Drug Abuse. People like Dr. Alan Leshner, Joe 
Califano, Herb Cleaver, Columbia University. You've got to go to the drug 
enforcement administration, Donny Marshal. Now, I think the facts of the 
matter are what we're trying to deal with-and by the way, you ask people in 
New Mexico like Congresswoman Heather Wilson, a Rhodes scholar and mother, 
and Senator Pete Domenici, who couldn't disagree more with the governor on 
this.  His package failed in his own state. He needs to listen to New 
Mexico law enforcement and health professionals, and in my judgment, the 
problem is 25 years ago, 15 years ago when the governor was using cocaine, 
he escaped its effects. And I'm proud of him and happy for him. But today, 
we've got five million chronic addicts in America. So, you know, we might 
agree on sentencing and reform. I'm going to go up to New York on Tuesday 
and testify in favor of reform of the Rockefeller laws. But we don't agree 
that heroine, which he's called to be legalized-New Mexico is one of the 
highest per-capita death rates of heroin in the country.

MR. RUSSERT: Governor, what would the United States of America look like if 
marijuana was legal, cocaine was legal, heroin was legal?

GOV. JOHNSON: Well, first off, I've never advocated the legalization of 
cocaine. I do advocate the legalization of marijuana. And we could...

MR. RUSSERT: And how about heroin?

GOV. JOHNSON: Well, let's look at-let's look at the European experience. 
Holland, which in my opinion has rational drug policy, which has 
effectively decriminalized the use of all drugs, has 60 percent the drug 
use as that of the United States. So there's a case to be made that use 
would not go up. They have 60 percent the use. That's among adults and 
kids. That's for marijuana and hard drugs.

And then going to Zurich, Switzerland. All right, Zurich, Switzerland, has 
a heroin maintenance program. Now, you have to be a heroin addict. You get 
a prescription from a doctor to get free heroin. You go to a clinic. You 
ingest the heroin at the clinic. The idea was that death, disease and crime 
associated with heroin was going to decrease. I met with the chief of 
police from Zurich in Albuquerque about five months ago. He said, "I was 
law enforcement. We could not have been more opposed to what they were 
proposing to do in Zurich. I, along with everyone else in law enforcement. 
We implemented this program." He said Zurich is a much better place to live 
today. There is less crime.

There is less death. There is less disease from the use of heroin. Is that 
a better situation?

MR. RUSSERT: General.

GEN. McCAFFREY: You know, again-at one point I had my guys call the 
governor's office and say, "Where are these assertions coming from?" The 
answer was Rolling Stone. What I believe is, what the DEA will tell you, is 
that heroin use in the Netherlands tripled since they changed their laws, 
and drug use doubled. And in our country, unlike what the governor is 
asserting, drug abuse has gone down by 50 percent since 1979; casual use of 
cocaine, down by 70 percent; adolescent drug use in the last two years 
alone by 21 percent.  It's grossly unfair to the people, the 5,000 
community anti-drug coalitions around America where health professionals, 
business leaders and others have actually reduced drug abuse. I would not 
want to model myself after the Swiss experiment, Needle Platz Park. It was 
a disaster. It's disgusting what they've done.

MR. RUSSERT: Governor, go ahead.

GOV. JOHNSON: Well, this is where the press can play a huge role in this. I 
went through this in New Mexico, the whole debating over the facts.  And 
what I said in New Mexico is, "Come on, press, do your job here. Is what 
I'm saying correct or not?" And basically what they've done is they've 
stepped in and they've said, "Yes," that the facts that I am quoting are 
correct.  And this is the-you know, this is the age of the Internet. So 
everybody out there that's watching this morning, you can get on the 
Internet, this information is available. Find out what the facts are. And 
again, clearly the facts are what they are. And it's very misleading to-the 
U.S. government is...

MR. RUSSERT: The DEA says that the amount of people who are using drugs now 
as opposed to 20 years ago has been cut in half. They say that only 5 
percent of the people in prison, in the federal system, are there for 
possession, and only 27 percent of the people in state prison. All the 
other people involved with drugs are dealers, or more serious crimes.

GEN. McCAFFREY: Seventy percent of them.

MR. RUSSERT: Is that-do you agree with that?

GEN. McCAFFREY: Twenty-five percent violent criminals.

GOV. JOHNSON: Well, no, I don't agree with the fact that drug use has been 
cut in half. And, Tim, just for a second, they're talking about 12 million, 
14 million drug users in the country. We're arresting 1.6 million a year. I 
reject that we're arresting 1 out of 8 drug users in this country. I 
absolutely reject it.

MR. RUSSERT: General, U.S. has 6 percent of the world's population and 
we're using about 60 percent of the world's drugs.

GEN. McCAFFREY: By the way, even that fact is completely nonsensical. I 
don't know what the real answer is. I would suspect we're using 3 percent 
of the world's heroin. There's around a million of us who are chronically 
using heroin in America, probably around 15 metric tons. The facts of the 
matter, the world produces around 500 metric tons. This is not a 
U.S.  problem; it's a worldwide problem. And the solution is parents, 
health professionals, coaches, people that understand the issue like Denny 
Hastert in the House of Representatives and Elijah Cummings and Heather 
Wilson, who say, "Let's focus on prevention, treatment, local law 
enforcement, stand behind our law enforcement professionals, and we'll work 
our way out of it."

MR. RUSSERT: How does it say, however, when former President Clinton 
pardons a lawyer for the cocaine cartel-the Cali coke cartel in Colombia?

GEN. McCAFFREY: What a sad tragedy. What a signal to the black population 
that has suffered so intently under this problem. And by the way, young 
African-Americans 30 and under have lower rates of drug abuse in America by 
far than the general population. They've seen the tragedy of drug abuse and 
are tending to walk away from it. This is a problem that affects all the 
viewers of this show and their children and grandchildren.

MR. RUSSERT: So you think the so-called war on drugs has worked?

GEN. McCAFFREY: Well, I don't think-we've substituted the metaphor of a 
cancer affecting American communities. If you start talking in that terms, 
you understand prevention, treatment, a holistic approach, five-year 
survival rates. We've increased drug treatment funding in the federal 
government by more than a third. We gave more than 600 million bucks to the 
National Institute of Drug Abuse. So we think we've got a rational strategy 
and it's paying off for America.

MR. RUSSERT: Governor.

GOV. JOHNSON: Well, one of the fundamental beliefs by the U.S. government, 
by the Drug Enforcement Administration, with our laws-the fundamental 
belief is, is that if you smoke marijuana, you fundamentally belong in 
rehabilitation, and that is just not correct. Eighty million Americans have 
smoked marijuana. They don't all belong in rehabilitation. The majority of 
them smoke marijuana like others have drinks, have cocktails in the 
evening. And let's not forget that at one point in this country's history 
it was criminal to manufacture and distribute alcohol. We've gone through 
that. And these laws are terribly discriminatory. I talked about 1.6 
million arrests every year in the United States on drug-related crime, 
800,000 of those arrests are for marijuana. Half those arrests, 400,000 of 
those marijuana arrests, are Hispanic. Tell me that half the users of 
marijuana in this country are Hispanic.  And I believe you're seven times 
more likely to go to jail if you're black and arrested than if you're 
white. So these laws are not being administered proportionately. There's an 
hypocrisy about the law.

MR. RUSSERT: General.

GEN. McCAFFREY: A couple of people who are worth knowing about in America: 
Dr. Mitch Rosenthal at the Phoenix House, the biggest non-profit drug 
treatment center in the country, all over New York, California, Texas; Dr. 
David Smith, Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic. Ask them about marijuana use in 
children. The governor's message is playing well to the college sophomores 
of America, and it's unfortunate. They will assert that one of the primary 
causes for admission to drug treatment in this country for adolescents is 
marijuana. It is not a benign substance, in particular for adolescents. 
When you find a 12-year-old smoking pot on weekends and binge-drinking beer 
and smoking cigarettes, you're looking at someone who's 85 percent more 
likely-85 times more likely to use cocaine. This is not behavior that we 
want our young people doing.

MR. RUSSERT: Governor, politically speaking, is there any chance that your 
program, your platform of decriminalizing marijuana and heroin, would ever, 
ever be accepted in the United States of America?

GOV. JOHNSON: There's no question that this is going to happen. The 
question is: Is it going to take 80 years? And, hopefully, it's not going 
to take 80 years. Hopefully, we can start to recognize, and, hopefully, at 
a minimum, we can put a stop to getting tougher on drugs. It doesn't work. 
It just doesn't work.

MR. RUSSERT: When's the soonest you think people would come to this conclusion?

GOV. JOHNSON: You know, I think-again, I appreciate being able to be here 
on this show today. I think as people begin to understand this problem and 
understand that there might be a distinction between use and abuse, use and 
doing harm, that they might be able to equate this to alcohol, and draw 
distinctions that, again, are much more humane than what we're currently 
doing. We can't continue to arrest and incarcerate this country.

MR. RUSSERT: General, do you see any political possibility that Governor 
Johnson's platform will be enacted?

GEN. McCAFFREY: No, none at all. His own legislator rejected it. While he 
was vetoing drug treatment money, we were increasing drug treatment funding 
dramatically. He's got to listen to the people in his own state.  His own 
prosecuting attorneys denounced him on this issue. The Legislature turned 
down eight of his nine bills. It's simply not going to happen. The innate 
good judgment of the American people understands, "We don't want our 
employees and our children using drugs. It's a disaster for us."

MR. RUSSERT: To be continued. Governor Gary Johnson, General McCaffrey, 
thank you very much for a very civilized debate.


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