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November 08, 2009

A Revealing Interview with Obama’s Drug Czar

On Tuesday, November 3, Rebecca Roberts of NPR conducted a thirty-minute soft-ball interview of current drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske, on Talk of the Nation. Kerlikowske, who has maintained a far lower profile than John Walters, his stridently uninformed predecessor, revealed that he is just as ignorant of many key details of marijuana use; thus I wouldn't look for much change in current federal “prohibition lite” (fewer DEA raids). What will be most interesting in the near future will be the official excuses offered for those that are carried out (you can bet there will be some).

Roberts’ interview, despite her failure to ask several painfully obvious questions, wasn't altogether useless, precisely because her subject was so much more affable than John Walters would ever have been. Thus Kerlikowske unwittingly revealed what he doesn’t know rather than simply repeating tedious drug war propaganda everyone has learned to tune out. A quick example was provided by a call from a female listener ("Kris") about 25 minutes into the program.

From the transcript:ROBERTS: Let's hear from Kris(ph) in Lincolnton, Georgia. Kris, welcome to TALK OF THE NATION. KRIS (Caller): Thank you. I was wondering - I'm 62 years old, and when I was in high school, I didn't even know what marijuana was. And I'm wondering why is it so rampant now, and it never used to be?

ROBERTS: You're listening to TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

Mr. KERLIKOWSKE: Well, I wish I had a good answer for that, Rachel. I am - I actually just about two years younger than you are, and so I'm afraid I would put myself in exactly the same mindset. But I think that marijuana is popularized on television shows. It is popularized in media. There is only one antidrug media message out there, and that's the one that the Office of the National Drug Control Policy actually funds, and that - the antidrug.com. There's an awful lot of information about drugs, and it's put forward in a very matter-of-fact and straightforward way that's very helpful to people. So I would tell you that there's more information available there.

My analysis: this is right in line with what I've come to recognize as the Generational Ignorance to which all humans seem prone: we tend to be blind to the social conditions that existed as few as fifteen years before we were born, primarily because our childhood memories are far more emotional than intellectual. Abstract thought doesn't begin in most children until around the age of twelve and is usually focused on local conditions in school and at home at first, although that may vary considerably, depending on intelligence and many other complex variables. In any event, both Kris and Kerlikowske were leading edge Baby Boomers who came of age in the early Sixties when pot first began appearing in American High Schools. I've consistently encountered the same ignorance among the pot smokers I've been interviewing for past eight years. When I tell them there was NO POT in American High Schools during my high school days ('45- '49). In fact, appreciation of that generational ignorance is key to any understanding of the genesis of today's enormous pot market; beyond that, the appeal pot had for boomer teens is critical to understanding its sudden surge in popularity from 1966 on, a surge that was clearly badly missed by the First Nixon Administration as it was hastily rewriting our drug laws without any scientific or medical inpupt at exactly the same time.

Since I know from painful experience that a number of "reform" luninaries share the same ignorance, I shouldn't be surprised when the drug czar admits he's just as ignorant of essential reality as the leadership of NORML and MPP (and, I suspect, as the Gang of Four, who are all of similar age).

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at November 8, 2009 07:43 PM