Obama's Drug Czar - Change is Coming

Cross posted at John 4:20

Obama has selected his Drug Czar, and it looks to be a huge improvement over what we've had for the last 20+ years. Certainly not an advocate for decriminalization, but definitely not another gung-ho "drug warrior", either....

From an e-mail I received from Students for a Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP):

President Obama has finally selected a Drug Czar, and thanks to your advocacy, he may be the most reasonable person to ever fill that post. This is his story in a nutshell:

During a summer day in Seattle eight years ago, a feeling of uncertainty hung in the air over Myrtle Edwards Park. So did a lot of marijuana smoke.

More than 100,000 people had gathered for the city's 10th annual Hempfest. There was a new police chief in town, and nobody was sure what to expect. Nonetheless, the clock hit 4:20pm and the park filled with a haze.

How many marijuana arrests were made at Hempfest that year? Only one.

Thus began Gil Kerlikowske's career as Seattle's police chief. Under his watch, the city embraced more sensible drug policies: establishing needle exchange programs, openly discussing alternatives to prohibition, protecting the rights of medical marijuana patients, and making marijuana possession the lowest priority for law enforcement. While the chief didn't create these forward-thinking policies, he stood by them.

And now, if he is confirmed by the Senate, he'll be standing by President Obama.

While we would have preferred a public health specialist to someone in law enforcement, this new "Drug Czar" could very well pave the way to more sensible and humane drug policies. But to ensure that he does, we must "brief the chief"! http://www.ssdp.org/briefthechief

After signing the petition, you'll be directed to a page where you can purchase him a welcome gift from a wide selection of books and DVDs that question the wisdom of the Drug War.

Could this be the first Drug Czar to have a copy of How to Legalize Drugs on his book shelf? It may be a long shot, but as Louis Brandeis once said: "Most of the things worth doing... had been declared impossible before they were done."

Cautiously optimistic,

Micah Daigle, Associate Director
Students for Sensible Drug Policy
P.S. Fun Fact: The police chief of Seattle who preceded Kerlikowske became an outspoken member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Maybe there's just something sensible in that Pacific Northwestern air...

Sign the petition here.

Tags: Change, decriminalization, Drug Czar, drug law reform, obama, ONDP (all tags)



This is really pretty encouraging.

Not a concrete move toward decriminalization by any means, but I think this shows Obama has a more enlightened view on drug policy. For the time being, I am relatively pleased with this.

by sricki 2009-02-13 07:46AM | 0 recs
About as much as we could ask for

The country isn't really ready for out-and-out decriminalization, no matter how many studies and statistics have shown that it'd be the correct course of action.

Make it an extremely low priority; when people realize that their lives haven't been significantly harmed by a lack of strict Mary Jane enforcement, perhaps we can start towards decriminalization.

by Dracomicron 2009-02-13 08:33AM | 0 recs
Re: This is really pretty encouraging.

Agreed. But it is a vast improvement over all previous Czars combined. Another good thing is that the new Czar is a believer in the scientifically-backed belief that treatment should be given to those charged with possession, rather than incarceration.

Or, as the SOAD song goes:

All Research and successful drug policy shows
That treatment should be increased
And law enforcement decreased
While abolishing

by John in Chicago 2009-02-13 08:45AM | 0 recs
Don't get all that Giddy quite yet

Gil was basically going with the flow...

After all, this is Seattle, one of the bluest places in the country.

Yeah, I agree, he is better then some of the other idiots to hold that position, but he did what he needed to survive in Seattle.

How that hands-off translates to National Policy is TBD, how it will sell in the red state is also TBD.

by WashStateBlue 2009-02-13 09:42AM | 0 recs
Re: Don't get all that Giddy quite yet

I don't think anyone is giddy, at least not me. Cautious optimism is more like it.

Either way, they guy is a much different than the self-righteous gung-ho self-proclaimed "warriors" we've seen in the past.

And if he just "goes with the flow", then he'll go with Obama's flow, which is a stated policy of not prosecuting medical marijuana users and favoring treatment over incarceration.

by John in Chicago 2009-02-13 10:00AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Drug Czar - Change is Coming

It's not just our country. Most of the world are a bunch of hypocrites. They glorify excess drinking, but then have no problem enforcing varying levels of punishment(to ridiculous degrees in Asia) for even moderate amount of marijuana. I personally am anti-pot and other drugs, but see no reason to ban it.

by Pravin 2009-02-13 10:09AM | 0 recs
That's the distinction that needs to be

made more often. You can be personally against the use of pot, but in support of legalization. I think it is assumed far to often that the people that support legalization are just stoners.

by SocialDem 2009-02-13 12:20PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Drug Czar - Change is Coming

It's about effing time to start decriminalizing drugs.  Obama of all people should know that locking up drug users is counterproductive and immoral.  I know he is held back politically, but small steps are possible.  Hopefully this appointment is such a step.

by Skaje 2009-02-13 10:33AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Drug Czar - Change is Coming

Abolish prohibition, tax pot to the hilt, cut income taxes by 25%.  

Present the tradeoffs.

OTOH, the stupidity of the American voter is world renowned.  They'd likely keep the shit the same.


by SuperCameron 2009-02-13 12:09PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Drug Czar - Change is Coming

Certainly not an advocate for decriminalization

Then it's not change.

Plus Holder is a lock em up kind of AG. Sorry, I suspect that I will remain a critic of US drug policy. I'm not impressed.

by Charles Lemos 2009-02-13 02:24PM | 0 recs
decriminalization will be a hard sell

Even with the polls split nationwide.

The problem is, this is very much a red state blue state situation, so the numbers are not going to translate into congressional will.

I don't think you can get nationwide what is being tried in Wash in house bill 5615:

http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/dailyweek ly/2009/02/drug_law_bills_get_their_day_ i.php

But even here, we have our blue dogs, such as Jim Hargrove.

This is a bill brought up by the Seattle contingent, that will probably get beat, or never even make it to the floor, because of rural dems like Hargrove.

So it would likely go on the US congress.

What is likely to happen is, more and more tolerance policies will be inacted in big cities like it is in Seattle, and generationally, folks like Hargrove in his 70s will give way to hopefully younger dems.

THEN you may get decrimilized weed in an entire state like Washington.

Nationwide, nah, Obama wouldn't even suggest it, it would die of neglect in congress.

by WashStateBlue 2009-02-13 03:16PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Drug Czar - Change is Coming

I wish they'd just legalize everything and have done with it.

by Robroy of Dunhill 2009-02-17 03:38AM | 0 recs


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