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SPEAKING at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, last December, the Surgeon General of the United States, Joycelyn Elders, MD, suggested that legalization of illicit drugs could lead to a significant decrease in violent crime. "It deserves active examination," she said.
Elders' words set off spasms of political pain from the White House to Capitol Hill, and ripples of her remarks eddied from coast to coast. Much of the criticism mistakenly portrayed her as in favor of legalizing currently illegal drugs.
Elders had hardly returned to her office before White House press secretary Dee Dee Myers announced, "The President is against legalizing drugs. It will not happen on his watch. [Elders] is not speaking for the administration on this issue."
The Surgeon General declined to be interviewed for this article, saying, through her spokesman, that her earlier remarks on the topic still stand. In response to the White House's
Marwick C. Change of Heart Perhaps, but Not of Legislation. JAMA. 1994;271(21):1635. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03510450007003