Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly minimized any suggested hypocrisy of President Donald Trump Cabinet leaders saying Sunday "marijuana is not a factor in the drug world," despite Attorney General Jeff Sessions' past tough talk on state movements to legalize the drug medicinally and recreationally.
Kelly told Sunday's "Meet The Press" with Chuck Todd his focus is on the deadly drugs coming from Latin American countries like Mexico.
"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 I think last year of 52,000 people," Gen. Kelly told host Todd. "Fifty-two thousand Americans: You can't put a price on the human misery. The costs to the United States is over $250 billion a year."
Kelly added he has long considered himself a crusader against illegal, deadly drugs even as a four-star Marines general and now as DHS Secretary – two places that historically do not battle the drug war.
"I got almost no interest from the last administration, as much as I railed about it," Gen. Kelly told Todd of his unique focus on drugs, despite the role of DHS being more pointed to immigration and security. "Just start the process of getting after this drug demand. President Trump has recognized this and taken it on."
Gen. Kelly stressed his interest on getting to the root of America's drug problems over merely cracking down on dealers, users, addiction, and crime in the U.S. – things more of AG Session's wheelhouse in the administration.
"The solution is not arresting a lot of users," Gen. Kelly told Todd. "The solution is a comprehensive drug demand reduction program in the United States that involves every man and woman of goodwill – and then rehabilitation, and then law enforcement, and then getting at the poppy fields, and the coca fields in the South."
Kelly's delegitimizing of marijuana as "not a factor in the drug world" seems to fuel recent criticism of inconsistencies in the Trump administration.
AG Sessions' Justice Department has launched a review of federal policy on marijuana, something that has concerned marijuana legalization activists and proponents.
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