Drug Czar Says America Is Winning Drug War

July 7, 2008 - 8:02 PM

(CNSNews.com) - Drug Czar General (Ret.) Barry McCaffrey took his war on drugs to Albuquerque, New Mexico. He met with New Mexico law enforcement officers, drug treatment workers and news media to respond to calls for drug legalization by Governor Gary Johnson (R-NM).

McCaffrey said in Albuquerque Thursday, he came to New Mexico to explain national drug strategy and not to criticize Johnson. However, during a meeting with New Mexico's news editors, McCaffrey called Johnson's drug stance irresponsible. "He's not dealing with the same drug abuse problem I see and the sheriffs see and the drug treatment community sees. He's sending a terrible message to young people."

He contends Johnson's statement that the drug war is a failure is wrong and that he has the figures to prove it. McCaffrey said overall drug use in the United States has declined by 50 percent since 1979 and that crack cocaine use is down 70 percent since 1985. He also said drug use by children between the ages of 8 and 12-years-old decreased by 13 percent last year.

McCaffrey also said New Mexico children are citing Johnson's legalization stance as one reason to think drug use is acceptable and schoolchildren have begun calling the governor "Puff Daddy Johnson."

Johnson responded to McCaffrey, "I don't know what he means by Puff Daddy Johnson. If by saying Puff Daddy he is bringing attention, which he is, to this issue, thank you, General McCaffrey." Johnson also said at Santa Fe news conference, he will continue his push for a legalization debate, despite criticism from McCaffrey, fellow politicians and others.

Later, McCaffrey address the Rotary Club of Albuquerque. Several protestors were removed by police from the banquet room after they began chanting, "Hey McCaffrey, stop the war" and other statements during his speech.

When an audience member questioned McCaffrey about medicinal marijuana, McCaffrey said he is against it because there is no conclusive evidence that it works. He added that he believes the medicinal marijuana debate is a smokescreen for wide-scale legalization. "Smoking dope is not a medicine," McCaffrey said, "It's dangerous for chronically ill and pregnant women. At the end of the day, I think it's a crock."

McCaffrey went on to say the national drug strategy relies on a combination of education, treatment and law enforcement. "Keeping drugs illegal preserves the stigma attached to drug use," he said.

But Governor Johnson asserts that legalizing drugs would free up billions of dollars in law enforcement money that could be used for prevention and enforcement. "There is no question that you would be looking at a healthier society as a result of legalization, control of drugs and education surrounding drugs."