President Trump's Administration at Odds Over Marijuana

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly. CREDIT AP

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly. CREDIT AP

In an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press With Chuck Todd", DHS chief John Kelly dismissed the idea that he's creating a "deportation force", and noted that US law says people here illegally should leave or be deported. Along with opiates, the drugs cost the US around $250 billion.

Unlike Sessions, Kelly doesn't have much say in how the United States prosecutes drug offenders.

SEC. JOHN KELLY: Drug consumption in the United States is the problem.

Top officials in the Trump administration are taking sharply divergent positions on the issue of federal marijuana policy and its role in fueling the war on drugs.

"It's very complicated", Kelly said of the range of undocumented immigrants.

The blunt-talking, retired Marine general defended the work of Homeland Security employees from immigration agents to airport security officers, saying they are unjustifiably maligned by critics as they enforce laws meant to keep America safe.

CHUCK TODD: -these Central American countries - is the idea of, for instance, marijuana legalization, does that help your problem or hurt your problem? "It's three things. Methamphetamine".

Kelly then went on to explain that the three drugs, in conjunction with opioids, were responsible for claiming the lives of over 50,000 people in 2015, a problem that cost the nation $250 billion. "And cocaine that comes up from further south". "52,000 Americans. You can't put a price on human misery", Kelly said. "The solution is a comprehensive drug demand reduction program in the United States that involves every man and woman of goodwill".

Kelly told Todd that arresting drug users won't resolve the problem, rather, he said the steps for alleviating the drug crisis should be to first reduce drug demand in the USA, then rehabilitation, law enforcement, and then targeting the origins of the drugs.

Kelly referred to the "vast tonnages" of marijuana and hard drugs that "TCOs" - transnational criminal organizations - move across the border from Mexico. A recent Washington Post analysis found that the ICE agency arrested 21,362 immigrants between January through mid-March, among whom 5,441 immigrants with no criminal records were also arrested.

Notably, last Thursday Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government introduced legislation to let adult possess up to 30 grams of marijuana in public, a measure that would make Canada the largest developed country to end a nationwide prohibition on recreational marijuana (RM).

"If you are a terrorist with an Internet connection, like the one on your ever-present cellphone, you can recruit new soldiers, plan attacks and upload a video calling for jihad with just a few clicks", Kelly said.

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