U.S. drug czar calls for end to "war on drugs"

By Desertfox · Jun 12, 2009 · ·
  1. Desertfox
    [h1]U.S. drug czar calls for end to "war on drugs"[/h1]

    By Andy Sullivan

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Obama administration's top drug cop plans to spend more money on treating addiction and scale down the "war on drugs" rhetoric as part of an overhaul of U.S. counternarcotics strategy.
    But don't expect the White House to consider legalizing marijuana, drug czar Gil Kerlikowske said on Friday.
    "The discussion about legalization is not a part of the president's vocabulary under any circumstances and it's not a part of mine," Kerlikowske said in a telephone interview.
    As head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Kerlikowske coordinates the efforts of 32 government agencies to limit illicit drug use.
    He has been in office less than a month, but the Obama administration has already taken a less confrontational approach to the nation's 35 million illegal drug users.
    The FBI is no longer raiding state-approved facilities that distribute marijuana for medical purposes, and the White House has told Congress to eliminate the sentencing disparity between powder and crack cocaine.
    Kerlikowske said he hopes to ditch the chest-thumping military rhetoric at the center of U.S. policy since President Nixon first declared a "war on drugs" 40 years ago.
    "We should stop using the metaphor about the war on drugs," said Kerlikowske, a career police officer who headed the Justice Department's community-policing initiative under President Clinton. "People look at it as a war on them, and frankly we're not at war with the people of this country."
    Nevertheless, Kerlikowske also plans to disrupt trafficking across the Mexican border through a new focus on the guns and cash that travel south, as well as the drugs coming north.
    U.S. drug policy has been criticized for focusing too much on fighting supplies from Colombia and other countries in South America and not enough on curbing demand at home, the world's largest drug market.
    Kerlikowske said a more balanced approach was needed, with greater emphasis on treatment programs, especially in prisons.
    "It's clear that if they go to prison and they have a drug problem and you don't treat it and they return ... to the same neighborhood from whence they came that you are going to have the same problem," he said. "Quite frankly people in neighborhoods, police officers, et cetera, are tired of recycling the problem. Let's try and fix it."
    Obama, who described youthful marijuana and cocaine use in his autobiography, has proposed a budget for the fiscal year starting in October that boosts funding for substance abuse programs by 4 percent to $3.6 billion.
    Needle exchanges for intravenous drug users, now banned at the federal level, will be considered a healthcare issue, he said.

    As Seattle police chief, Kerlikowske worked in a city that ran a needle-exchange program, celebrates an annual "Hempfest" that draws tens of thousands of marijuana smokers, and passed a referendum that made enforcing marijuana laws the department's lowest priority.
    Other state and local governments have loosened their marijuana laws as well. Medical marijuana is now legal in 13 states, and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last month welcomed a public debate about proposals to legalize and tax the drug.
    While that's not going to happen on the federal level, Kerlikowske suggested the government should devote less effort to prosecuting nonviolent drug users.
    "We have finite resources," he said. "We need to devote those finite resources toward those people who are the most dangerous to the community."


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  1. chibi curmudgeon
    This is AMAZING news. I didn't have the high hopes for Obama that a lot of people did. I voted for him but figured, he's a politician, and politicians lie like rugs. But there is indeed quite a lot of change going down in this administration. I think Kerlikowske was a good choice. Not perfect, but in the right direction.
  2. Venusia
    Oh. My. God. :eek:

    This has to be the first step in decriminalizing marijuana. It's like the reverse of how it was made illegal, bit by bit. This is just fantastic news. Just the story Swiv needed to start her day. Now she can't wait to move to a state where it's not illegal. Oh man, now Swivy hates CA less and wants to move back. She has enough health problems with documentation to obtain a medical marijuana card. Holy cats, Swviy is ecstatic! Medical MJ would help her so much. She has three ruptured discs in her low back with tears in the discs, degenerative disc disease (in her 20s :() and knows that MJ helps the pain a LOT from the times she smoked before signing an opioid contract, and she only needs less than a pinner to feel better. Plus she could take way less oxycodone/morphine for her pain, making it easier to taper off later on if needed. TY TY TY for sharing this. It made Swiv's day for sure. :thumbsup::applause::thumbsup:
  3. Niasyn
    If the government can just leave legalization up to the individual states, then the bible belt can remain "Pure" and "Virtuous" and everyone else can be responsible adults. Sounds like a win-win to me.
  4. Waffa
    well, this is really positive news. Let's hope it will continue step by step like this ..:)

    It's hard to change EU drug laws more reasonable before USA and therefor UN is doing their laws more comfortable in my opinion.
  5. MarkyMayhem
    Unfortunaly, most opioid contracts in CA still disallow even medical marijuana... You might be able to find something if you searched hard enough though...
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