A New Drug Czar
The drug law reform community put much effort and faith into the election of President Barack Obama and until just recently they have experienced nothing but disappointment in return. First, during the transition Obama nominated hardline drug warrior Eric Holder, who sought to make simple misdemeanor marijuana possession a felony with mandatory minimum sentencing in the District of Columbia, to be Attorney General. The president then named as Surgeon General television personality Sanjay Gupta who has demonstrated astounding ignorance on the subject of cannabis use.
The new administration’s measures in this field so far have been just as bad as his nominations. During his first week in office there were federal raids in California on medical marijuana clinics operating legally under state law, an action that broke a campaign promise to change this Bush policy. Although, the leader of NATO in Afghanistan, a U.S. general under Obama’s command, did announce a policy change, henceforth his subordinates were to kill on sight anyone involved in the drug trade irregardless of any connection with the insurgency. Also, when the City Council of El Paso Texas voted for a resolution merely calling for a national discussion on legalization of drugs they were threatened with a loss of stimulus package funding from the Obama Administration. And, there is no evidence that any of the above actions has displeased our new leader.
However, last week Obama did do something that drew praise from the nation’s drug law reform organizations, he nominated Seattle police chief Gil Kerlikowske to head the Office of National Drug Control Policy. The Drug Policy Alliance for example cited the facts that Seattle had legalized medical marijuana, made recreational marijuana the lowest law enforcement priority, allowed the implementation of needle exchange programs, and pursued a progressive policy when it came to dealing with overdoses as very good signs. Perhaps the greatest cause for optimism is the fact that Chief Kerlikowske has followed in the footsteps of retired Seattle police chief Norm Stamper now a prominent member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) who “believes the drug war causes untold misery, undermines effective law enforcement, and does not begin to pass any sort of cost-benefit analysis.”comments powered by Disqus
Keith Halderman - 2/15/2009
I hope you are right about that.
Tom - 2/15/2009
To my knowledge, the president never actually named him. His named was just floated in the press.
Mark Brady - 2/14/2009