New Drug Czar Ends “War on Drugs”

May 14, 2009

(ChattahBox)—There’s a new sheriff in town and he is about to shake things up in how our nation treats drug abusers. Gil Kerlikowske, just recently confirmed to head President Obama’s Office of National Drug Control Policy, plans to end the previous administration’s “War on Drugs” and focus instead on treatment and reducing demand.

Kerlikowske, as the Nation’s new “Drug Czar” does not want to wage a war on drug users focused solely on incarceration, locking drug users away in prisons, without offering treatment.

The new Drug Czar believes properly framing issues is the key, “We’re not at war with people in this country,” Kerlikowske said. The hard line rhetoric of the past actually made it more difficult for the country to effectively deal with its illegal drug problems.

Treating illegal drug use as a public health problem as well as a criminal justice issue is the stance the Obama administration plans to take on the nation’s drug problem and the new Drug Czar readily agrees.

Already the White House has signaled that its approach to illegal drug use in this country is about to change. Attorney General Holder announced that the federal government would cease raiding medical marijuana facilities, as long as the dispensaries comply with state law.

President Obama also supports a change in the law ending the disparities in sentencing between possession of crack cocaine and powder cocaine. Our country’s prisons are filled with people serving long sentences, a large proportion who are minorities, who were caught with a sugar cube sized portion of crack cocaine. People arrested with much larger quantities of powdered cocaine are given lesser sentences.

Although President Obama pledged during his campaign to end the federal ban on a needle exchange program, the president’s new budget, crafted during a financial crisis, didn’t allocate funds to abolish the ban and is keeping it in place.

Kerlikowske comes to the position of Drug Czar straight from serving as police chief of Seattle, Washington, a city known for its liberal treatment of marijuana possession. The City of Seattle passed a voter initiative in 2003, forcing law enforcement to treat simple marijuana violations as a low priority. However, Kerlikowske was not a supporter of the initiative.

What can we expect from Kerlikowske as Drug Czar? His stances on illegal drug enforcement are pretty much in line with President Obama’s policies. Both men don’t support legalizing drugs, but believe in a needle exchange program. We can expect to see a subtle shift away from incarcerations and harsh sentences to more treatment options.

Ending the “War on Drugs” is a start towards a more pragmatic drug policy in the United States. Drug Czar Kerlikowske will be busy crafting administration drug policies and presenting them before Congress, a task that at times, won’t be easy, as not every policy maker believes the “War on Drugs “was a failure.



2 Responses to “New Drug Czar Ends “War on Drugs””

  1. Mark Martine on May 14th, 2009 10:41 am

    The only politicians who still believe in the “war on Drugs” are the ones who don’t realize that the ‘tough on drugs’ image will now get them voted out of office. It’s a simple fact that pounding their chests and screeming how they’re protecting our kids from marijuana just won’t get them re-elected anymore. The majority of American voters have woken up & we’re just not going to support doing the same old things when it comes to marijuana. Prohibition is a deep dark hole & continuing to shovel the same old crap is just making the hole deeper. It’s time to regulate the sale of marijuana/cannabis to adults 21 & older. The jig is up & we’re just not going to dance to the same old tune any longer. Since when did Americans ask for more regulation & taxation? Well, that’s what we need done with cannabis. So, do it.

  2. New Drug Czar Ends “War on Drugs” | ChattahBox News Blog on May 14th, 2009 1:25 pm

    […] Mo­­re here: N­ew D­rug­ Cza­r En­d­s­ “Wa­r on­ D­rug­s… […]

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