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Profiles In Prohibition: Drug Czar John Walters- The Maddest of Reefer Madness


Article written Richard Cowan, former NORML National Director and the author of All You Want To Know About CBD Therapy.


John Walters was the Drug Czar for George W. Bush’s entire Administration and was as much a failure as everything else W. touched.


As head of The White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy, he had a media budget of $180 million to use in the War on Drugs. He certainly took Reefer Madness to its extreme, and he made very clear that the Drug War was really a war on cannabis.


See: Why Is Marijuana Legalization Not Covered in Mainstream Media?


In a 2002 interview with the Baltimore Sun, once the home of H. L. Mencken, Walters said, “(P)eople have not talked about and focused on marijuana. Of the 65 percent of those people in that dependency category, their primary or secondary dependence is with marijuana…”


“It is by far the single largest factor in illegal drug addiction in the country. … The conventional view out there today is that marijuana is a soft drug, that marijuana is harmless and that it is not addictive, and there is no withdrawal. It's not just a gateway drug. … If you are not talking about marijuana, you are not talking about the central part of the problem. (Emphasis added)


Reporter: How does that fit into the debate concerning medical use of marijuana? 


Walters: “The medical marijuana issue should be handled directly in the way that we do other things in medical science. We have the finest health care system in the world and in world history. We have very reliable ways of taking substances that have medical efficacy, proving that efficacy and safety. … The medical marijuana debate has been used as an argument that officials are unjustly keeping people who are suffering from medicine. … The problem is that the debate is sidetracking legitimate concerns about the drug, and people are suggesting that there is some kind of bigotry … by those who express concerns about the drug.”


Reporter: How seriously do you take methamphetamine as a problem, especially in rural America?


Walters: We take methamphetamine very seriously. … Right now, it has not reached the level of cocaine or heroin or marijuana. But its seriousness is growing. 


In May of 2002, The Washington Post, which now keeps track of Trump’s lies, invited Walters to lie to its readers in an Op-Ed, “The Myth of 'Harmless' Marijuana”. 



“But marijuana is far from "harmless" — it is pernicious. Parents are often unaware that today's marijuana is different from that of a generation ago, with potency levels 10 to 20 times stronger than the marijuana with which they were familiar.”




“Marijuana smoking can hurt more than just grades. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, every year more than 2,500 admissions to the District of Columbia's overtaxed emergency rooms — some 300 of them for patients under age 18 — are linked to marijuana smoking, and the number of marijuana-related emergencies is growing.” 


In fairness to Walters he did not invent this lie. It took several years and the corruption of a government scientific agency, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).


When someone arrives in an Emergency Room the doctors naturally ask them what drugs they have used because they obviously need to know, whether or not that drug was the cause of the visit, but the “Mention” (the term used in the reports) does not necessarily mean that that “drug” was the cause of the visit.


Between 20 percent and 30 percent of patients who show up in emergency rooms have alcohol problems, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

That means that alcohol accounts for roughly 25% of all emergency room visits. Marijuana mentions, even with everything else – including alcohol – involved less than one tenth of one percent of such visits.




In 2020 it is hard to believe that in 2002 the Washington Post would print such prohibitionist propaganda without questioning anything so blatantly false, but if it is to hold President Trump accountable for his lies, they should at least look back and come clean with its readers.


In the meantime, John Walters has become the Chief Operating Officer of the Hudson Foundation which continues with his prohibitionist propaganda.


See The Marijuana Market As An "Essential Service" Threatens Everyone

And The Risk of Exempting Marijuana Businesses During COVID-19 Closures


Hudson  proclaims that they are “Promoting American leadership and global engagement for a secure, free, and prosperous future.”


Yeah, sure. Twenty-two million American marijuana arrests and another 600,000 per year, more than all arrests for violent crime combined. I’m sure Walters will do as much for Hudson as he did for the Drug War


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