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Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024
The Observer

Former 'drug czar' warns against marijuana use

The former "drug czar" under President George W. Bush, John P. Walters, presented on the dangers of illicit drugs and potential solutions to a growing problem Thursday evening.

Walters, the former Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy from 2001 to 2009, gave a presentation titled “Pot: Hot or Not? The Young, American Democracy, and the Drug Problem,” addressing the effects of marijuana and illicit drugs and their potential legalization.

20140925, 2014-2015, Pot-Hot or not, By Sarah Olson
Sarah Olson | The Observer
Walter, who now serves as executive vice president of the Hudson Institute, highlighted how the consumption of most illicit substances decreased during the years 2001-2007.

He also discussed how drug use among teens is growing, citing a culture that has embraced marijuana and advertised it as a natural remedy.

Walters stressed the importance of screening programs that accelerate the process of an addict realizing he or she has a problem.

“The use of court-mandated treatment has helped get people the care they need,” Walters said.

Walters presented statistics that showed the the criminal justice system is the largest reason people enter treatment.

“It would be nice if people could be educated by family members or friends, but ultimately the single greatest source of intervention and treatment begins with the criminal justice system,” Walters said.

Walters said he wanted the audience to know how pertinent it was to seek out the necessary resources to help a family member or friend who is potentially struggling with addiction.

“In almost every case if [drug users] get themselves treatment, there’s always someone who has been a source of compulsion to do that,” Walters said. “Although this usually is initiated by the criminal justice system, friends and family can be a vital resource of help.”

Walters warned against the potential dangers of legalizing marijuana for recreational use, citing evidence that claimed crime rates in Denver have increased dramatically since the installation of marijuana dispensaries in the state.

“Denver is becoming the new Detroit,” Walters said in regards to the growing rate of crime in the city.

When a student from the Denver area challenged this statement, Walters drew the crowd’s attention to a potential business owner’s point of view, and how marijuana legalization causes apprehension in an owner’s mind.

“Who’s going to want to bring a business to a city or region where they can’t get a workforce that is sober?” Walters said.

The Center for Ethics and Culture, Potenziani Program in Constitutional Studies and Students for Child Oriented Policy sponsored the discussion.