Obama's interesting pick for drug czar
by ryeland, Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 02:14:37 AM EST
The Seattle Times is reporting this morning that President Obama has chosen Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske to serve as head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
While a police chief doesn't strike me as a particularly progressive choice for drug czar, I am definitely intrigued by the reaction on the Drug War Chronicle blog:
It appears that we may soon be faced with the most promising drug czar ever to occupy the position.
More from Scott Morgan on the Drug War Chronicle blog:
To be clear, Kerlikowske is not a friend of drug policy reform to any extent I'm aware of. What matters here is that I see no evidence that he is a vicious drug warrior of the sort commonly associated with the drug czar post. Given that ONDCP is mandated to oppose reform efforts and has typically embraced that role, a less confrontational and reefer madness-driven drug czar is really the best case scenario from a drug policy reform perspective.
Under Kerlikowske, Seattle has been a model for sensible marijuana policy, including the famous Seattle Hempfest at which the Seattle Police Department performs a public safety role while declining to make marijuana arrests. Following the passage of a 2004 lowest priority initiative, the city's already-low rate of marijuana prosecutions fell even further, suggesting that Kerlikowske was responsive to the will of voters.
This does sound very promising. But I'd like to hear more from others who are familiar with Kerlikowske.
Sensible marijuana policy from the U.S. government would be a long-overdue, welcome change. Let's hope this really is a step in the right direction.