DHS Secretary John Kelly: ‘Marijuana Is Not a Factor in the Drug War’

Sunday on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly said marijuana was “not a factor in the drug war.”

Partial transcript as follows:

TODD: You as head of SouthCOM, essentially, the southern military command at your previous job before this, you were testifying on this issues, particularly during the time we had this surge of Central American immigration through Mexico. And I remember at the time you said, “Hey, I stop at the,” essentially the Guatemalan border.

KELLY: Right.

TODD: Your purview. But you talked about the difficulty – you were trying to find partners at the time in Central America to help you with this, and the U.S. drug consumption, the U.S. drug consumer, you thought as part of the problem in all of this. Explain.

KELLY: 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. The trafficker’s biggest problem is not getting drugs, till now, into the United States. The biggest problem they had was laundering the money. So when you have that much profit coming out of the United States, and that profit is managed by cartels that are beyond violent. And so you go to the Latin American countries, Mexico, the United States for that matter. You mentioned corruption already. The kind of money they can offer an attorney general in Guatemala or a police chief in Mexico City, the kind of money they can offer -and if you don’t take the money they’re happy to send your youngest child’s head to your home in a plastic bag.

TODD: You’d said, though, the hypocrisy aspect of it. Meaning –

KELLY: It is-

TODD: –these Central American countries — is the idea of, for instance, marijuana legalization, does that help your problem or hurt your problem?

KELLY: Yeah, marijuana is not a factor in the drug war.

TODD: This really is a cocaine, and in some cases the opioid, sort of, copycats?

KELLY: It’s three things. Methamphetamine. Almost all produced in Mexico. Heroin. Virtually all produced in Mexico. And cocaine that comes up from further south. Those three drugs result in the death of I think in ’15, I think, of 52,000 people to include opiates. It’s a massive problem. 52,000 Americans dead. You can’t put a price on human misery. The cost to the United States is over $250 billion a year. The solution is not arresting a lot of users. The solution is a comprehensive drug demand reduction program in the United States that involves every man and woman of goodwill.

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