New Drug Czar Nominated; ONDCP To Be Removed From The Cabinet

Well, some of the much vaunted and promised ‘change’ under a President Obama appears to be coming true in the formal nomination yesterday of Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske, and the mainstream media certainly seems to be picking up on all of the positive and salient points about Chief Kerlikowske that drug policy reform advocates have been touting since his name was first floated almost a month ago. Listen to the coverage of the announcement at National Public Radio.

Unlike the prior Drug Czar, John ‘Unicorn’ Walters, a moral crusader (aptly dubbed Bill Bennett’s ‘Mini-Me’ by the DPA’s Ethan Nadelmann), Chief Kerlikowske crafted pragmatic public policies and law enforcement practices that immediately distinguish him from his predecessors such as Bennett, Gen. Barry McCaffrey and Walters.
To wit:
200,000 pro-reform cannabis law supporters converge on the waterfront in Seattle in mid-August for the world famous Hempfest, where adults openly consume cannabis and the hundreds of police present make few to no arrests (and where, ironically, alcohol use is strictly forbidden).
Local law enforcement in Seattle apparently does not harass the artisans who craft and market the remarkable glass paraphernalia (AKA, medical delivery devices) for which Seattle is famous.
Compare that with Walters’ and former Attorney General Ashcroft’s zealous pursuit and culture-smashing symbolism of arresting, prosecuting and actually incarcerating NORML Advisory Board member Tommy Chong for nine months in a federal prison for the ‘crime’ of selling high-end artisan, Chong Bongs.
Seattle police have a generally good track record working with medical cannabis providers, physicians and patients—including Chief Kerlikowske meeting with medical cannabis stakeholders about how to best implement Washington State’s 2000 medical cannabis laws. Compare this with Walters and McCaffrey who collectively spent 14 years insisting that there is no such thing at all as medical cannabis (often comparing it to crack cocaine), patients who claim efficacy or relief from cannabis as ‘fakers’, recommending physicians as ‘kooks’ and the majority of citizens who’ve voted for medical cannabis law reform as ‘easily duped by legalizers’.
Rumor has it that Chief Kerlikowske has actually employed the term ‘harm reduction‘ in a sentence without employing foul language! In fact, under his leadership (and that of former Seattle Police Chief and NORML Advisory Board member Norm Stamper before him) Seattle police both recognize and practice the increasingly popular, European-inspired police/public health doctrine known as harm reduction. Two of the important tenets of harm reduction are concentrating police resources on so-called ‘hard’ drugs rather than cannabis consumers and needle exchange to help prevent the spread of infectious diseases–both championed by Chief Kerlikowske, and totally dismissed as ‘tools for legalization’ by McCaffrey and Walters.
Despite publicly opposing a reform effort in 2003 in Seattle to make adult cannabis possession a low law enforcement priority, once I-75 was passed by a majority of voters, Chief Kerlikowske shrugged off the lost, embraced the public-health centric arguments advanced by reform advocates, and met with law reformers in the Seattle-area like I-75 campaigner and NORML board member Dominic Holden, defense attorney and NORML Board member Jeff Steinborn, popular travel author/TV host and NORML advisory board member Rick Steves.
John Walters on the otherhand would not even appear in the same green room with me backstage on TV news show, let alone debate live on the same sound stage.
Looks to me like Chief Kerlikowske is a real man…not a moralistic, lie-to-beat-the-band bureaucrat.
Chief Kerlikowske’s former colleagues on the police force, cannabis law reform activists, medical patients, civil rights lawyers and public health officials all seem to recognize that science and ‘smart on crime’ (as compared to ‘tough on crime’ and ineffective platitudes like ‘just say no’ or ‘drug-free America’) drive his policing—not ideology and a twisted sense of personal morality.
With the recent report from a pair of WA researchers affirming that the ONDCP under McCaffrey and Walters obsessed too much on cannabis prohibition, and not enough on meth, crack, heroin…a decided change in leadership at ONDCP can’t happen fast enough.
Lastly, it was also announced yesterday by the 1980s congressional author of the ONDCP charter, no less and with sweet karmic irony, Vice President Joe Biden, that despite the best intentions of placing the ONDCP into the President’s cabinet in 1988, from this point forward the ONDCP is no longer going to be a cabinet-level office.
Whoa. Now that is change NORML and taxpayers can believe in!

0 thoughts

  1. Just one more reason why we’re (me&my girl) are saving to move to the northwest….people are just smarter up there; it would seem.

  2. finally, I see Weed being decrimilized, or legalized, very soon, im glad that piece of crap mc cain wasnt elected ,all hail the present Obama, change is coming, peace out.

  3. That’s all well and good, but…
    Instead of putting cannabis users into prison, are we all now going to be thrown into rehab for possession? And if we refuse treatment, do we go to prison?
    I’d like to know this ASAP! I think we all would. I know he was just nominated yesterday, but let’s not get too happy until we have some answers.
    I’m feeling very cautiously optimistic at the moment. I just don’t feel like getting my hopes up just yet, especially if the marijuana issue continues to be ignored and swept under the rug, rather than dealt with so that we can finally stop being called criminals.

  4. OK! The President made a wise choice on Drug Czar. Now would be a good time for NORML to get out the history books and review what went wrong last time. I’m talking about Peter Bourne in 1978. Look it up ! Educate yourself ! Let’s not make the same mistake again, I can’t wait another 30 years.
    This new guy may be an improvement but he’s still going to do an awful lot to outrage you. Count on it. It’s his job. My take is he’s going to enforce the law until it is changed. Your not going to like it.
    CHANGE THE LAW: CONGRESS WRITES THE LAWS, NOT THE EXECUTIVE. It’s time to mobilize those 60% + margins we marshal for med and decrim elections to clean house in congress. Case in point, Colorado is a progressive Med state. It’s one of the most promissing states for general MJ reform. Yet it also elected 2 DRUG WAR CRIMINALS. Rep. Joe Rice, D-Glendale, and in the Senate by Sen. Brandon Shaffer, D-Boulder. Google the article “WHEN COPS ARE THIEVES”
    These two young, progressive, Democrats from progressive districts feel no political danger in sponsoring a bill returning us to the REAGAN-CLINTON dark ages of forfiture. I See where there is a legal confrence coming up in Aspen in June. If I hear a lot of noise about defeating Rep. Joe Rice, D-Glendale, and in the Senate by Sen. Brandon Shaffer, D-Boulder at this cinference I will know NORML is serious. If all I hear is more of the same old begging I’ll finally give it up.

  5. I agree with #5 everything you said is on point. Im optimistic but I dont see any legalization coming or the feds decriming lol, and yes this drug czar might be cool at a local, state level, but when he gets to the big leagues I fear he will crumble to the man, and be another puppet. I hope im wrong but I just cant imagine not getting thrown in jail for growing buds.

  6. Just take a look at Joe Bidens face behind Kerlikowske. LOOKS LIKE A ATE A LEMON. Classic!
    There is a God after all…
    I sense the Tide is tyurning with a vengeance. The medical community is finally behind this. Public opinion, especially on the west coast is behind this. The Politicians are starting to wake up.
    It’s going to happen folks!
    A new day has dawned. Prohibitions days are numbered. If the Federal government finally recognizes Cannabis/Marijuana’s medical properties they will reluctantly reshedule it. I say that because they will be under intense pressure from some very strong lobbyists. the prison workers union (The most powerful in the state of california and primarily comp[osed of law enforcement) The Beer and Big Tobacco companies. Cotton, Lumber are others that come to mind. It’s not an uphill battle anymore folks. We are on level ground now.
    A new day has indeed dawned. Prohibitions days are numbered. We’ve got to push for the right to grow our own plants at home for our own practical use a la beer and wine. I hope and pray for a day when we can raise our own strains in our own backyards. to be able to grow our own medicine? Wow, now theres a thought!

  7. So to say the least Biden will be Obama’s closes advisor on drugs? MMMM lets think here the guy has such an up and down record on everything he probably doesn’t realize what he voted on

  8. When I served on the 1992 National Democratic Platform Committee (as Jerry Brown’s rep. from Wisconsin), and put an amendment before the committee asking for the Democratic Party to advocate the legalization of hemp for industrial use and to regulate the legal distribution of hemp’s other uses, a President who would actually begin to work on the issue seemed a long way off. Hopefully that administration has arrived, and will work on this issue if for no other reason than the common sense approach–just taking the economic crisis into consideration–now makes, well, common sense. The hemp paper industry alone would save hundreds of thousands of trees, improve the soil, and would again create paper books (for those of us who still like them) which would last for many hundreds of years. Forward into the past. . .
    Randy Kryn
    March, 2009

  9. Here’s something i just found out ….i recently picked up two hitch hikers in , Garberville , Ca. & took them down to , San Francisco . One of them was from , Belgium & she said with sincere honesty that marijuana was ALREADY LEGAL in , Belgium . She said it is completely legal to grow your own . She said it is popular with young people unlike California where people of all ages smoke it . Even 99 yr. old ladies . She said beer was more popular than weed .In , Belgium she said , it is still illegal to sell it & if you get caught with cannabis while driving your in trouble . Big trouble with alcohol should be the case too……..i hope. Sounds fair to me .

  10. yep change IS in the air!!!!!!!!!!! and John walters should be sick of himself! after what i read! but what do i know? i’m only a 12 year old girl! PEACE!

  11. This is a giant step forward for us as a whole. However NORML needs to come help out in richmond virginia immediately. Although no one hears about it on this website, there is acutally very strong support for marijuana reform in richmond’s city. We need a leader to step up, rally everyone together and present our case to our representatives. if anyone can help or offer some useful advise, (besides to contact my local reps), please respond on here. Thanks
    -“Trainwreck”

  12. This is a move in the right direction. I urge all of you to ask the question of those who oppose lifting prohibition what are the mechanisms by which prohibition will work. After 60 years of miserable failures and millions of ruined lives maybe they could explain how this policy is actually going to work. If they can’t maybe they will start to see our logic. There are many dangerous things in life like driving a motorcycle but we don’t make it illegal. We put regulations in place to do it in a way that poses the least amount of harm. Please take the time to write to the White House and to your elected officals about this issue.

  13. I recently discovered that positive educated statements concerning cannabis have been censured or removed from sites like google,and other popular internet sites. This should be a wake up call to others out there that mainstream media has an agenda to quell the truth about cannabis and the positive effects it would have on our society. Beware of what is not being reported rather than what is reported!

  14. THE ONLY SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE D.E.A. AND THE TALIBAN IS THAT THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE A FREE COUNTRY. BOTH ORGANIZATIONS USE: THREATS, INTIMIDATION, FINES, INPRISONMENT, VIOLENCE, MURDER AND FREQUENTLY DESTROY AND STEAL INNOCENT PEOPLE’S PROPERTY, AS BOTH HEAVILY ARMED GROUPS VIOLATE CITIZENS’ RIGHTFUL PERSONAL FREEDOM AND INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY. BOTH THE D.E.A. AND THE TALIBAN SEEK TO IMPOSE THE RELIGIOUS-INSPIRED MORALITY OF THE POLITICAL AND POWER ELITE ON THE ENTIRE POPULATIONS OF THEIR RESPECTIVE COUNTRIES. BEST WISHES TO ALL TRUE AMERICAN PATRIOTS YEARNING TO LIVE FREE. AND GOOD LUCK. YOU’LL NEED IT.

  15. I believe it is a step in the right direction, however
    big money industries,alcohol,tobacco,pharmaceautical and drug free organizations, view legal cannabis as a threat to thier income streams and will do anything to protect those income streams.They will not let it go without a dirty fight. The Federal government will not legalize cannabis until they have every angle covered from patents to biocontrols.The patent is here and they are still perfecting the bio-controls.
    Remember, if your science does not support the government politics consider yourself an enemy combatant.
    It is difficult to free fools from the chains they revere.
    Voltaire

  16. UNTILL THE TRUE OWNERSHIP OF PROPERTY AND MONEY BACKED BY GOLD OR SILVER AND THE SOVREIGHNTY OF THE SELF ARE RETURNED TO THE COMMON MAN THE DEBATE OVER CANNIBIS CONSUMPTION AND GROWING FOR PERSONAL USE ARE BEYOND GRASP.,THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA HAS BEEN CAPTURED BY THE THUG CLASS OF BANKERS AND CARREER POLITICIANS WHO WISH TO ENSLAVE THE COMMON MAN TO GARNER WEALTH FOR THE RULING CLASSES.WE ARE FIGHTING COMMUNISM AND A SOCIALIST GANG OF DECIEVERS! HIDE YOUR GUNS AND YOUR SEEDS YOUNG AMERICANS HEED THIS WARNING OR BE A SLAVE TOMORROW!!!

  17. This is good news.
    I honestly didn’t think Obama would want to tackle another third-rail issue, with everything else going on. But, maybe I was wrong. Fingers crossed.

  18. I just read that Richard Watkins, 23, was held at the Harrison County jail. Justice Court Judge Gene Dedeaux set bond at $50,000 for two ounces of marijuana. The kid is facing a maximum penalty for distributing 30 grams or more but less than a kilogram 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine!
    http://www.sunherald.com/201/story/1207737.html
    This is a perfect example of excessive, oppressive injustice by another over zealous police department along with a Judge that really should be targeted for a federal civil rights violation investigation by the DOJ.

  19. #25 marton Says:
    March 17th, 2009 at 2:55 pm
    I just read that Richard Watkins, 23, was held at the Harrison County jail.
    Justice Court Judge Gene Dedeaux set bond at $50,000 for two ounces of marijuana…..
    RE:
    Marton ,
    – I’ve just read this news-article.
    – – Even though I agree that these laws and their worst-case
    EXCESSIVE application are a horrible, oppressive
    injustice over a God-given plant-product,
    I would fault Richard Watkins for having smoked in his pickup-truck,
    (lingering odor), AND for not driving more carefully in the first place.
    (This still doesn’t make 30yrs and $1M fine appropriate, though).
    Mississippi still appears to be listed as a decrim-state
    in NORML’s state-by-state legal section, HOWEVER:
    – – Some people get the mistaken impression that
    ‘decrim’ means that it’s ‘legal’, ‘practically-legal’, whereas it really means
    that it’s not AS illegal &/or up to a certain amount,
    whereupon, the penalties escalate EXPONENTIALLY,
    and that the cannabis-consumer is THEN labelled as a ‘kingpin’ or ‘trafficker’, when in fact, they’re not. 🙁
    Guide to police-encounters:
    http://www.flexyourrights.org/
    NORML 2009 PSA AD-CONTEST WINNING VIDEOS:

    C0mEDE_w1xo&feature=PlayList&p=FCCDE10CF60ECBCC&index=0

  20. hello all,seems as though we are at yet another pivot point yet again.the hemp industry has been crippled by negligence and flat out lies to the point where you can not get any industrial hemp becuse some 85 year old politician is afraid were gonna roll up our hemp shirt and smoke it.it is about time we saw a change for the positive and maybe even get some positive reinforcement from someone in the the federal govt.for education on industrial hemp google don wirtshafter.emanwhile ,pray,chant ,dance,do whatever you all do,and lets try to stop this insanity.

  21. The placement of more liberal figures to positions of executive authority in the U.S. Government will set the foundation for marijuana reform. However, the feat can only be accomplished through 1)a nationwide proliferation campaign 2) a nationwide legalization campaign 3)Individual state legalization. The most effective method is to create powerful lobby in the U.S. Senate. If this lobby is financially backed, it could easily introduce legislation that would create regulate in order to tax marijuana. Similarly, publicizing the struggle is the best strategy and to hide any use is to prevent publicization. Therefore, being vocal about marijuana use is the most important method to achieve national success. In the same way the civil rights movement proceeded, marijuana reform will only be achieved by activism and attention.

  22. I think John Walters needs to get off the LSD and try some cannabis he might stop seeing unicorns everywhere.

  23. “A new day has dawned. Prohibitions days are numbered. If the Federal government finally recognizes Cannabis/Marijuana’s medical properties they will reluctantly reshedule it.” – John
    ****
    If-and-WHEN the general-public recognizes that the DEA has always employed what BUSHCO perfected; scarin’ the Hell outta the general-population, to enhance the DEA’s JOB-SECURITY!! For some reason, the DEA (unlike everyone-else) has convinced too-many-people they have some “Divine Right” to job-security.

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