Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske has accepted a job in the Obama administration, most likely overseeing the nation's drug policies, according to sources familiar with the chief's plans.
Kerlikowske, who has led the department for more than eight years, has told the department's top commanders he expects to leave to take a top federal position, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they aren't officially authorized to disclose the information.
"Oh God bless us"
Kerlikowske's possible role in shaping drug policy for the Obama administration was applauded Tuesday by local medical-marijuana advocates.
In 2003, Kerlikowske opposed a city ballot measure, approved by voters, to make marijuana possession the lowest law-enforcement priority, saying it would create confusion. But in doing so, he noted that arresting people for possessing marijuana for personal use was already not a priority.
"Oh God bless us," said Joanna McKee, co-founder and director of Green Cross Patient Co-Op, a medical-marijuana patient-advocacy group. "What a blessing — the karma gods are smiling on the whole country, man."
McKee said Kerlikowske knows the difference between cracking down on the illegal abuse of drugs and allowing the responsible use of marijuana.
Douglas Hiatt, a Seattle attorney and advocate for medical-marijuana patients, said his first preference would be for a physician to oversee national drug policy.
But Kerlikowske would be a vast improvement over past drug czars, who have used the office to carry out the so-called "war on drugs," Hiatt said.
Kerlikowske is a "very reasonable guy" who would likely bring more liberal policies to the job, Hiatt said.
By: Steve Miletich and Mike Carter
Wednesday, February 11, 2009 at 12:00 AM