Despite recent comments made by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer that go as far as comparing cannabis to heroin, and suggesting that there is a lot of violence surrounding the cannabis industry, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security says that it’s not really something they are all that worried about when it comes to the War on Drugs. It was during a Meet the Press interview on Sunday morning with DHS Secretary John Kelley when host Chuck Todd asked him whether or not legalization would help or hurt their work at the border to keep drugs out of the country that prompted Kelley to make this comment.
“Yeah, marijuana is not a factor in the drug war,” Kelly responded.
Rather, Kelley cited three drugs in particular as issues at the Mexican border and further south – including heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine. He claims that almost all the methamphetamine and heroin are being produced in Mexico and that cocaine is produced further south in Latin America – and that those are their main focuses. “You cannot put a price on human misery,” Kelley said, explaining further that those three drugs in particular lead to the deaths of around 52,000 people each year – and they also end up costing the United States about $250 billion a year.
Another part of the interview that gives hope to many activists who have been fighting against the drug war for years now is the fact that he appears to realize that incarceration is not the answer to the problems in the U.S., suggesting we focus on rehabilitation and reducing the demand for these drugs before we worry about law enforcement. After all, getting the drug dealers off the streets is a practically never ending situation because as long as people are still looking for drugs someone will be there to supply them.
“The solution is not arresting a lot of users,” Kelly said. “The solution is a comprehensive drug demand reduction program in the United States that involves every man and woman of goodwill. And then rehabilitation. And then law enforcement. And then getting at the poppy fields and the coca fields in the South.”
However, the current policies of jailing are not the way to go when trying to treat addicts – rehabilitation is, and it’s good to see someone who is closely involved with the war on drugs to be bringing attention to this for a change. While the Department of Justice is set to review and consider adopting new marijuana enforcement policies, perhaps they will take the words of Secretary Kelley into consideration, remembering that there are much more harmful substances that we need to be worried about.