The “War on Drugs” has failed so miserably, that now even the head of the Department of Homeland Security is admitting that it is won’t stop the current drug crisis.
DHS Secretary John Kelly testified before Congress on the Trump Administration’s 2018 Homeland Security budget request on Tuesday. He told Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) he believes the current methods used by the United States are a “complete waste of time,” given that fact that there is still such a high demand for the same drugs the U.S. is trying to eliminate.
“If we don’t reduce the drug demand in the United States for heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine, this is all a complete waste of time,” Kelly said. “The bad news for Mexico and the southwest border is, largely because of our drug demand, an incredibly efficient network has developed that stretches, frankly, from around the world, goes through the Western Hemisphere … into the United States.”
Kelly said he believes it is not up to law enforcement to solve the problem. He believes it is up to Hollywood, professional athletes, and even politicians, to influence society to turn to a more holistic approach.
“We’ve got to take a much more holistic approach to this [drug problem], demand reduction, rehabilitation,” Kelly said. “Certainly law enforcement plays a role in the homeland. The southwest border plays a role.”
Kelly told Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) that his primary strategy revolves around restrictions on “precursor drugs.”
“The United States wants to try to kill themselves with methamphetamine, heck, we can do it for them,” Kelly said. “Congressional action in terms of restricting the precursors—that’s primarily, in my view, the solution to the problem.”
While Kelly has not pushed for decriminalizing all drugs, or even specifically ending marijuana prohibition, his comments do set him apart from other prominent figures in the Trump Administration.
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price has a reputation for being one of the most anti-marijuana members of Congress. His voting record includes evidence that he is a vocal advocate for the federal government interfering with state laws on marijuana legalization, and that he is against Veterans Affairs doctors having the right to recommend medical marijuana to veterans who might benefit from it.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is also a strong advocate for the federal government increasing the “War on Drugs,” despite its track record. He even went as far as to say that “good people don’t smoke marijuana” during a Senate hearing in April 2016.
“I can’t tell you how concerning it is for me, emotionally and personally, to see the possibility that we will reverse the progress that we’ve made,” Sessions said. “It was the prevention movement that really was so positive, and it led to this decline. The creating of knowledge that this drug is dangerous, it cannot be played with, it is not funny, it’s not something to laugh about, and trying to send that message with clarity, that good people don’t smoke marijuana.”
Kelly made headlines in April, when he told Meet The Press that he believes filling prisons with nonviolent offenders arrested on drug charges won’t solve the drug crisis.
“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.”
Kelly also said marijuana, which is listed as a Schedule 1 drug in the U.S., is not a factor. He noted that the use of drugs such as meth, heroin and cocaine led to over 52,000 deaths in 2015.
“Marijuana is not a factor in the drug war,” Kelly said. “Drug consumption in the United States is the problem, just cocaine alone when you consider the massive amounts of profit that come out of the United States.”