While marijuana’s biggest booster — President Obama — says blowing a joint with your buddies is fine anytime, the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy says pot is “dangerous” and that sale of the drug is a “serious crime.” (So, maybe just the occupant of the Oval Office is baked.)
In fact, the drug control office’s website has nothing good to say about marijuana at all — and quite a few alarming things that are based on, you know, “research.”
The site says pot has “a high potential for abuse and no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.”
And: “Research tells us that chronic marijuana use may increase the risk of schizophrenia in vulnerable individuals, and high doses of the drug can produce acute psychotic reactions.”
And: “Research suggests that the economic costs associated with use of the drug could far outweigh any benefit gained from an increase in tax revenue.”
The website says that in 2011, more than 18 million Americans 12 and older reported using the drug within the past month. About 4.2 million people were dependent on pot, “more than pain relievers, cocaine, tranquilizers, hallucinogens, and heroin combined.”
In other bad news for stoners, a recent study says fatal car crashes involving marijuana have tripled to 12 percent. Another finding was that the risk of a fatal crash for someone on alcohol and pot is 24 times that of a sober person.
But the president said recently that toking up is just a “bad habit.”
“As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life. I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol.”
Not cool, says the drug control policy office. “Lower levels of perceived risk are associated with higher use rates. Surveys have found some troubling trends in recent years, with young Americans (ages 12 to 17), as the percentage reporting thinking there was a great risk of harm in smoking marijuana has decreased.”
Marijuana is particularly dangerous to younger users. “Researchers have also found that adolescents’ long-term use of marijuana may be linked with lower IQ (as much as an 8 point drop) later in life,” the office says.
More: “Confusing messages being presented by popular culture, media, proponents of ‘medical’ marijuana, and political campaigns to legalize all marijuana use perpetuate the false notion that marijuana is harmless. This significantly diminishes efforts to keep our young people drug free and hampers the struggle of those recovering from addiction,” the website says.
Last week, some federal lawmakers asked Michael Botticelli, deputy director of the office, what the Obama administration thinks about marijuana. “The administration continues to oppose attempts to legalize marijuana and other drugs,” he told a House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee.
Rep. John L. Mica, apparently not blazed, called the White House’s stance “schizophrenic” and “a policy in chaos.” “We’ve gone from ‘just say no,’ then we had ‘I didn’t inhale,’ and now we have ‘just say maybe’ or ‘just go ahead.’”
“We are trying to sort out what is the policy of the administration as it is now faced with many states passing legal use of marijuana, first for medical purposes, now recreational purposes,” the Florida Republican said.
Meanwhile, the Drug Enforcement Administration is also struggling with the chaotic policy. During a Senate hearing last month, James Capra, chief of operations for the DEA, said “going down the path to legalization in this country is reckless and irresponsible.”
“I’m talking about the long-term impact of legalization in the United States. It scares us,” he said. “The treatment people are afraid, the education people are afraid. Law enforcement is worried what is going to happen. In every part of the world where this experiment has been tried, it has failed, time and time again.”
And just as the nation’s capital prepares to decriminalize marijuana, making the penalty for holding an ounce of pot just $25, less than a parking ticket, the president weighed in on — cigarettes?
“I applaud this morning’s news that CVS Caremark has decided to stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products in its stores, and begin a national campaign to help millions of Americans quit smoking instead,” said the nicotine gum-chomping president.
“Today’s decision will help advance my administration’s efforts to reduce tobacco-related deaths, cancer, and heart disease, as well as bring down health care costs — ultimately saving lives and protecting untold numbers of families from pain and heartbreak for years to come,” he said.
But marijuana? Not so bad. So for you tobacco smokers, quit that weed and pick up the other one, wacky tobacky. Endorsed by the president of the United States!
• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times and is now an editor of the Drudge Report. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @josephcurl.