Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said cannabis “is not a factor in the drug war.” This was during Meet the Press on Sunday, April 16. The biggest factors? Three opiates: meth, heroin, and cocaine. Meth and heroine being “virtually all produced in Mexico,” Kelly stressed. He discussed the current opioid epidemic in the States, which he called “a massive problem.” Over 52,000 people in America died from opiate overdoses in 2015. “You can’t put a price on human misery,” Kelly said before naming the price to be over $250 billion a year.
Variety in the Trump cabinet
Kelly’s remarks put him alongside drug czar Tom Marino. These officials stand to the left of the more hawkish attorney general Jeff Sessions. They represent two of the diverse positions on cannabis among the Trump cabinet.
Kelly showed more interest in rehabilitation than in criminal justice as the right course. “This solution is not arresting a lot of users. The solution is a comprehensive drug demand reduction program.” After rehabilitation, law enforcement is the second to last step. Last is “getting at the poppy fields and coca plants in the south.”
Weed as a Homeland Security Threat at the Border
However, Kelly has mentioned weed alongside immigration. This was in a speech at George Washington University. Kelly named Transnational Criminal Organizations, or TCO’s, a chief homeland security threat. “They move vast tonnages of marijuana and hard drugs” across American borders.
He went to call marijuana “a potentially dangerous gateway drug that leads to the use of harder drugs.” The federal government is sworn to uphold federal drug laws, he stated. This includes “investigating marijuana pathways.” And ICE will continue to use marijuana possession charges as an “essential element” in deporting undocumented immigrants.
Cannabis may be less important than opiates in the drug war for Kelly. But at the border, weed is useful as a boost for deportation cases.