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Marijuana is 'not a factor' in the Trump administration's drug war, say DHS chief

Arresting marijuana users is not a priority of the Trump administration, Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said Sunday while speaking with NBC's Chuck Todd on Meet the Press. "Marijuana is not a factor in the drug war," Kelly said. "It's three things: Methamphetamine, almost all produced in Mexico; heroin, virtually all produced in Mexico; and cocaine that comes up from further south."

"The solution is not arresting a lot of users," he continued. "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."

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has broadcast a different message. He argues "good people don't smoke marijuana" and has long taken an enthusiastic hardline stance on federal marijuana prohibition specifically and the drug war more broadly.

National security experts do not all share Kelly's confidence that securing the border will cut drug consumption, or that less drug use, in turn, will lessen illegal border crossings. "The only law [drug] cartels do not break is the law of supply and demand," writes Paul Kan, a U.S. Army War College professor, at War on the Rocks. "In fact, as new barriers along the border increase risks for the cartels, they will innovate smuggling operations, raise their prices to keep profits flowing, and stimulate new domestic markets in Mexico and on the U.S. side of the border."

Watch Kelly's comments in context below; his discussion of the drug war begins around the 10:30 mark. Bonnie Kristian