Former Surgeon General: “Stop Using Our Poor to Subsidize Private Prison Industries”

joycelyn elders international cannabis business conference

(image via Wikipedia)

By Anthony Johnson

Former Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders was ahead of her time in many ways. The first African American to hold the post, she was only the 2nd woman as well. Like any great pioneer, she hasn’t been afraid to speak her mind on a whole host of issues, from marijuana to masturbation. Working under the Bill Clinton Administration, Dr. Elders proposed that the United States study the possibility of ending prohibition all the way back in 1993. Elders didn’t receive support from the administration and eventually resigned after taking flak for recommending that masturbation should be taught as part of a healthy sex education.

In 2010, Dr. Elders endorsed California’s Proposition 19 cannabis legalization measure. While the effort didn’t win at the ballot box, it did help change the national debate, benefiting the successful campaigns in Washington in Colorado two years later. On February 13th, Dr. Elders will be returning to California to speak about the need to legalize and regulate marijuana at the International Cannabis Business Conference (ICBC) in San Francisco.

This is an important time for the entire cannabis legalization movement, especially California, as Golden State voters may just be voting on a legalization measure this November. The San Francisco Chronicle interviewed Dr. Elders, asking her about her experience as a pioneer and the impacts that cannabis legalization can have:

Q: What do you think the impact of legalization would be on low-income communities? On communities of color?

A: With legalization, we would stop using our poor to subsidize private prison industries. … We should spend more money on drug treatment rather than incarceration. Also, states and federal government would not spend so much on keeping people warehoused in prisons, and could spend that money on education and community development.

People’s lives could improve by not having the specter of a criminal conviction hovering over them forever, affecting child custody, voting rights, employment, business loans, trade licensing, student aid, public housing and other public assistance. The consequences of any drug conviction are lifelong and severe and are not experienced equally throughout the population despite comparable drug use and selling rates; African Americans and Hispanics are disproportionately punished for drug law violations whether they are for drug using or selling.

Partially thanks to mainstream officials like Dr. Elders, the cannabis law reform community is leaps and bounds ahead of where it was in 1993 when she first called for our nation to study the benefits of legalization and even 2010, when she endorsed California Proposition 19. It will be great to hear from Dr. Elders at the ICBC on how she feels about the progress made and the challenges ahead for a rational national drug policy. Hopefully, she is encouraged by our recent advances and appreciates the gains that we have made, thanks to outspoken trailblazers like herself.

Source: Marijuana Politics – syndicated with special permission


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  • Val

    30 trillion is missing from the security branches of the gov., most of it went to the pockets of contractors in Afghanistan…they built detention and torture centers, too many of them.

  • JohnB

    It is unfortunate that Dr Elders is one of very few Surgeons General to take a stand of any kind on cannabis.
    Did Sanjay Gupta’s change of mind about cannabis cost him the potential job – anyone know?
    Looking at that link, what I see is a bunch of folks who cared way more about their political careers than anything else.

    • Closet Warrior

      More affluent people in general need to speak up for Mary Jane cus she’s everybody’s main thang! Really, people from all walks of life smoke. Religion and cultures are transcend by its ability to heal and bring people together. Didn’t hear about Sanjay , I dig him, I thought he was all about mmj after two life-confirming documentaries? Didn’t know he had a change of heart on the issue.

      • saynotohypocrisy

        Speaking of weed’s ability to bring people together, that’s probably one cause of the fanatical opposition to weed, all the people who profit one way or another from keeping people divided, like military contractors for example.

        • Closet Warrior

          Unfortunately, you’re probably right.

      • JohnB

        Sorry, I wasn’t clear; I think Gupta was being considered for Surgeon General right about the time he went from opposing medical cannabis to embracing it.
        I’m not sure of the exact timing, which is why I wondered if his coming around to see cannabis as beneficial to some cost him a chance at being Surgeon General.
        He was being considered in 2009, but I don’t know precisely when his “conversion” on cannabis was.

        • Closet Warrior

          I actually believe it was around2013, that’s when he started filming the 1sr CNN documentary then it was huge, he became the advocate superstar for mmj then made the second one and hasn’t looked back!

  • It starts with #Compassion ?

    ?? She knows the true meaning of Compassion ?? . By the way, Love ya work Mr.Green

  • SilentPatriot


  • Didn’t Bill Clinton fire her for her stance on MJ?

    • Mack Peterson

      No. Clinton fired her for her willingness to acknowledge that masturbation was healthy, normal, and a “pre-marital sex” alternative for young people. Ridiculous (her being fired) 20 years ago and just as ridiculous today…

  • EddyMelv

    This is what happens when Big Government jumps in bed with Big Business — they become conjoined mates that when imposing unfair regulations and laws onto the Public, the Public then has to fight tooth and nail to undo the wrong.
    It goes beyond taking “an act of Congress….” —- and it’s not about medical cannabis either —- that is the soft landing approach to legalization. This approach is taken due to the gross brain-washing of the American public and the World —- thanks to our U.S. government imposing its iron fist onto the rest of the world.
    Do you really think that all of these other countries just coincidentally took the same stand at the same time regarding cannabis ???????? Of course not — this was a global attack on the Global Public to harness civil liberties and freedoms of choice.
    Due to this, the American Public is forced to use the back door toward total legalization through pussy-footing its way via the medical cannabis platform.
    The bottom line is that Prohibition does not work, and just the word alone strikes up visions of Big Brother stomping on Joe Q Public. This is a CONTROL ISSUE, folks. Power-hungry corporates in bed with a government that believes it can and should continue the mission to dummy the Public down and increase its control on its citizens. Our government, and basically a large chunk of global governments want total control of its population.
    As our government presses on to control the American population, there will be individuals and events that come out and hit “our” Government right in the freakin’ face —- enough is enough, politics and politicians have ruined this great country and now it’s time to put someone in there that is not a professional politician —- ergo, Donald Trump. Like him or not —- go no further than recognize the “statement” being made by the American Public — we’re sick of this crap.
    Not to get too political (but we know that cannabis prohibition and pending legalization is totally political), the American Public is ready to make a shift away from what has taken us to where we are today —- and certainly the American Public is far from being proud of where our Government has taken us —- in many, many ways. The cannabis issue is just one of many sad stories…