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Gov. Gary Johnson took on former U.S. drug czar Barry McCaffrey on national
television Wednesday, with McCaffrey blasting Johnson for "irresponsible
thinking" in pushing drug law reform.

Johnson and McCaffrey sparred over the nation's war on drugs on CNN's Inside
Politics program. Johnson was filmed at the Capitol, where he had difficulty
hearing some of McCaffrey's statements because of technical problems.

During an October 1999 visit to Albuquerque, not long after Johnson began
his national campaign to change drug laws, McCaffrey had mockingly referred
to Johnson as "Puff Daddy Johnson."

McCaffrey, a retired four-star Army general, headed the White House Office
of National Drug Control Policy during the Clinton administration.

"I was ready for this," Johnson said Wednesday after his bout with McCaffrey
on CNN. Johnson then hummed the theme from the movie "Rocky."

McCaffrey told CNN he thinks the country is "moving in the right direction"
with its drug policies.

"We're dismayed by the kind of, to be blunt, irresponsible thinking that I'm
hearing coming out of Governor Johnson," said McCaffrey.

McCaffrey said drug use in America had decreased by more than half since
1979, a figure Johnson disputed.

Johnson contends the war on drugs is a miserable failure.

"By no figment of the imagination is this something that we're winning,"
Johnson said on CNN. "This is a war against ourselves. There are 80 million
Americans who have done illegal drugs. I happen to be one of them and, but
for the grace of God, I'm not behind bars."

Johnson, who calls drug use "a bad choice," has acknowledged smoking
marijuana and trying cocaine in his early 20s. Johnson favors legalizing
marijuana and reducing penalties for possessing other drugs. He said money
now spent on law enforcement should be redirected to prevention and

McCaffrey said Congress has "put huge new resources into prevention,
education and treatment with bipartisan support." "People like Sen. Pete
Domenici and a brilliant young Congresswoman Heather Wilson out in New
Mexico have been part of the solution," McCaffrey told CNN.

Domenici, Wilson and Rep. Joe Skeen -- the three Republican members of
New Mexico's congressional delegation -- recently made news regarding
the drug war when they called upon John Dendahl to resign as Republican
state party chairman after he publicly supported Johnson's drug reform bills
during the legislative session.

Johnson said later he was unable to hear McCaffrey's comments about Domenici
and Wilson. "I wish I had caught some of that," Johnson said. "I would have
brought up John Dendahl. . . . He is a voice of reason in all this."

Newshawk: Cannabis News - marijuana, hemp, and cannabis news
Pubdate: Wed, 21 Mar 2001
Source: Albuquerque Journal (NM)
Copyright: 2001 Albuquerque Journal
Contact: opinion@abqjournal.com
Address: P.O. Drawer J, Albuquerque, N.M. 87103
Website: The Albuquerque Journal
Author: Loie Fecteau Journal Politics Writer
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