By: Bethany Winkel
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What the New Drug Czar Has to Say, Part 2
Michael Botticelli, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), has his own views about legalizing marijuana and how drug crimes should be handled. Many people are looking to the drug czar to provide direction in cases related to drug and alcohol abuse and addiction.
The ONDCP has been against the legalization of marijuana all along, and Botticelli says it is partly because of the health problems marijuana can cause, and how legalizing it will affect younger people. “We’ve been opposed to legalization efforts, not from an ideological perspective, but from a public-health perspective,” Botticelli told the Dallas Morning News. “A couple of things: The evidence is abundantly clear that there are significant adverse health consequences to marijuana, and particularly for youths. We know that kids who use substances, particularly alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, from a very young age are [harming their] developing brains. It puts them at significant risk for developing addiction. It’s been linked to poor academic achievement. It seems to exacerbate, particularly, issues around mental health issues. A study showed that fairly chronic use leads to lower IQ issues.”
As far as punishments for drug crimes, however, Botticelli believes that we must focus on treatment and rehab rather than time behind bars, and his office will work to make treatment more available to those that need it. “Locking people up for minor drug offenses, and especially people with substance-use disorders, is not the answer,” Mr. Botticelli told the New York Times. “It’s cruel. It’s costly. And it doesn’t make the public any safer.”
Do you agree with the drug czar? Read the full interview with Botticelli here and then tell us what you think.