The White House "drug czar," John Walters backed a Mexican government proposal to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, according to the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP).
"I can't believe I'm actually saying this, but John Walters is right," says Rob Kampia, executive director of MPP. "We heartily second his support for eliminating criminal penalties for marijuana users in Mexico and look forward to working with him to end such penalties in the U.S. as well."
The group cites an Oct. 22 New York Times report that references “Walters' public support for a drug decriminalization proposal by Mexican President Felipe Calderon.”
Calderon's proposal, if approved, would mean no jail sentence or fine and no criminal record of arrest or possession if the individual completes drug treatment, in the case of addiction, or a drug education program
“The Mexican president's proposal would also decriminalize possession of small amounts of heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine,” says a statement by MPP.
"It's fantastic that John Walters has recognized the massive destruction the drug war has inflicted on Mexico and is now calling for reforms there, but he's a rank hypocrite if he continues opposing similar reforms in the U.S.," Kampia says. "The Mexican proposal is far more sweeping than MPP's proposals to decriminalize marijuana or make marijuana medically available, both of which John Walters and his henchmen rail against."
Policy watchers will be watching to see if Walters changes his tune in the United States.
“In a March 19, 2008, press release from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy,” the MPP statement says, “Deputy Director Scott Burns called a New Hampshire proposal to impose a $200 fine rather than jail time for a small amount of marijuana ‘a dangerous first step toward complete drug legalization.’ ”
It’s probably a good idea that MPP and others not expect too much. We have a for-profit prison system to keep in business, and with 2007 marijuana possession arrests at 872,720, those laws are needed to keep beds filled. After all, arrests for all violent crimes combined only totaled 597,447.
The last record set for marijuana arrests was 829,627 in 2006.