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Drug Czar Decries Ariz. Pot Measure



The Associated Press

P H O E N I X, Oct. 11
PHOENIX (AP) The federal drug czar denounced a measure on Arizona's November ballot that would decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, calling it a "stupid, insulting con."

John P. Walters made the statement Wednesday at a town hall meeting, and on Thursday visited a center for teen drug addicts in Nevada to criticize a similar measure there.

"We know that marijuana is the single largest source of dependency," Walters, head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, told a group of about 150 senior citizens and children Wednesday. "We know that it is responsible for 20 percent of accidents on the road today.

"How many billions of dollars in liability is Arizona opening itself up to down the line?"

If passed, Arizona's Proposition 203 would decriminalize the possession of up to two ounces of marijuana for personal use. It would also require the Department of Public Safety to provide free marijuana to people with a written recommendation from a physician.

In Nevada on Thursday, Walters said, "no community is better off with more drugs." He has said Nevada's Question 9 could make the state a center for drug tourism.

Billy Rogers, head of Nevadans for Responsible Law Enforcement, the main group supporting the measure, said there's no evidence the initiative's passage would create more drug addicts.

He pointed out that the drug czar's own Web site shows the majority of drug addicts in Nevada were treated last year for an amphetamine addiction.

"I think it's about time the drug czar was held accountable to the outright falsehoods he's been putting out there," Rogers said.

Phoenix resident Carolyn Barker, 60, attended Wednesday's meeting because she was angered at comments that Walters made on the radio earlier in the day.

"I had a friend with cancer and it helped him eat," Barker said. "He got marijuana illegally and he could have gotten caught."

Walters, who coordinates federal drug programs and spending, said no scientific data proves marijuana is effective as medicine.

AP writer Angie Wagner contributed to this report from Las Vegas.