Trump Homeland Security Pick Opposes Legal Marijuana
But Retired General Is Open To Medical Cannabis
President-elect Donald Trump moved to add another opponent of marijuana legalization to his Cabinet on Wednesday, naming retired Marine General John F. Kelly as his pick to lead the Department of Homeland Security.
While head of the United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) Kelly regularly testified before Congress that state marijuana policy reforms in the U.S. made it harder to elicit cooperation in the international war on drugs from Latin American countries.
“Most of the states — countries — I deal with were in utter disbelief that we would, in their opinion, be going in that direction, particularly after 25 years of encouraging them to fight our drug problem in their countries,” he told the House Armed Services Committee in 2014. “They’re very polite to me, but every now and again when they’re not so polite, the term ‘hypocrite’ gets into the discussion… It is hard for me to look them
in the eye and tell them, ‘You really need to, you know, stay shoulder to shoulder with us,’ because they see us in a sense giving in.”
Arguing that enacting marijuana policy reform would lead to increased crime and health care costs, Kelly said, “It’s astounding to me that we are — we’ve just kicked off — the federal government has just kicked off a $100 million program to try to get people to stop smoking tobacco, yet we’re opening up other areas of substance abuse.”
But in an interview with Military Times, Kelly said he’s open to the medical use of cannabis.
“If it has a medical use — and I’m not a doctor, but I’m told it has a medical use — whether it’s veterans or anyone else, if it helps those people, then fine,” he said. “Medicine is medicine.” However, he also told the newspaper that marijuana is a “gateway” that can lead to use of other drugs.