Skip to main content

New Drug Czar Says "War on Drugs" Mentality is Over

Submitted by smorgan on
In his first interview since taking office, newly appointed drug czar Gil Kerlikowske had some very interesting things to say:

WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration's new drug czar says he wants to banish the idea that the U.S. is fighting "a war on drugs," a move that would underscore a shift favoring treatment over incarceration in trying to reduce illicit drug use.

In his first interview since being confirmed to head the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, Gil Kerlikowske said Wednesday the bellicose analogy was a barrier to dealing with the nation's drug issues.

"Regardless of how you try to explain to people it's a 'war on drugs' or a 'war on a product,' people see a war as a war on them," he said. "We're not at war with people in this country." [WSJ]

Coulda fooled me. It's plainly ridiculous to suggest that we're not waging war as we arrest nearly a million Americans every year just for marijuana, as we kill innocent people and even harmless dogs in an endless parade of botched drug raids, and continue promising new crackdowns on American drug users.

Still, it's certainly encouraging to see that Kerlikowske is determined to separate himself from his predecessors. This is a bold and remarkable statement no matter how one interprets it. Any effort to pander to growing drug war opposition is encouraging, even if disingenuous. On that note, I think Ethan makes a good point:

Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance, a group that supports legalization of medical marijuana, said he is "cautiously optimistic" about Mr. Kerlikowske. "The analogy we have is this is like turning around an ocean liner," he said. "What's important is the damn thing is beginning to turn."

Stay tuned.

Add new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.