America's Drug Czar: Programmed To Oppose Popular Drug Policy Reforms

Predictably. Reflexively. Mandated by law.
So the current U.S. drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske*, in true Pavlovian style, reacted negatively to the umpteenth commission report issued last week opining that 1) the war on some drugs has totally failed to achieve any of its stated goals, 2) policy reforms based on public health–not arrest and incarcerate–models are most effective, 3) the war on some drugs wastes preciously needed tax dollars, military expenditures, destabilize international borders and cause havoc in the banking and financial industries and 4) that legalization should readily be on the table, notably legalizing cannabis.
As if a bell rang, the U.S. drug czar’s office dutifully rolled out a brief and defensive commentary published in The Hill (a virtually DC-only publication for inside-the- beltway-types) that touches upon the Obama administration’s only-slightly-different-from-previous-drug czars’-approach-to-maintaining-the-status quo…
*Mr. Kerlikowske is likely going to be resigning soon as drug czar (which is understandable as it is one of the most thankless bureaucratic positions in Washington, D.C. as a job with a prescription for failure) to become the next police chief of Chicago

Drug policies must be rooted in science
By Gil Kerlikowske
Last week, the Global Commission on Drug Policy issued a report calling for the decriminalization of illicit drugs based on the notion that global efforts to reduce drug use have been a failure. Certainly, given the stature of the Commission and the long-term challenge of drug policies both nationally and internationally, the Commission’s message may appear compelling at first. But there are serious flaws with both the report’s conclusion and its proposed remedy.
We agree with the Commission that balanced drug control efforts are necessary, which is why this administration’s National Drug Control Policy is a marked departure from past strategies. We support diverting non-violent offenders into treatment instead of jail by encouraging alternatives to incarceration. And as a former police chief, I and my colleagues know that we cannot arrest our way out of the drug problem. As I’ve often stated before, drug use should be addressed as a public health problem because we know drug addiction is a disease that can be successfully prevented and treated. Legalizing illicit drugs increase drug use and the need for drug treatment, while also making it more difficult to keep our communities healthy and safe.
Our National Drug Control Strategy is science-based. And science shows that illegal drug use is associated with specialty treatment admissions, fatal drugged driving accidents, mental illness, and emergency room admissions. Illicit drug use has huge costs to our society, outside of just criminal justice costs.
A recent report by the Department of Justice’s National Drug Intelligence Center about the economic impact of illicit drug use indicates that the costs of illicit drug use on health care and productivity alone, are over $80 billion. Making illicit drugs legal would not reduce any of these factors. Nor is drug use a victimless crime. Just last month, during a visit to the Pediatric Interim Care Center in Kent, Washington, I saw firsthand the tragic impact drug use has on newborn babies.

In addition, despite the Commission’s assertions, efforts to reduce drug use over the last several decades have, in fact, achieved success. Overall drug use in the United States is half of what it was thirty years ago, cocaine production in Colombia has dropped by almost two-thirds, and the very same U.N. World Drug Report cited by the Commission concluded that, “Demand for cocaine in the U.S. has been in long-term decline.”
This administration’s efforts to reduce drug use are not born out of a culture war or drug war mentality, but rather out of the recognition that drug use strains our economy, public health, and public safety. The President’s inaugural National Drug Control Strategy – released one year ago – focuses on both the public health and public safety aspects of drug use and addiction. It focuses on addiction as a disease and on the importance of preventing drug use, as well as providing treatment to those who need it, including those who are involved in the criminal justice system. For the first time, it emphasizes support for millions of individuals who are in recovery from drug addiction.
And the United States is not alone. Our international partners across the globe – including Mexico’s President Calderon, Colombia’s President Santos, and Costa Rica’s President Miranda – have all clearly stated their opposition to drug legalization.
It is, of course, tempting to opt for seemingly easy answers to the world’s drug problems. They appear intractable at times. But we have made real progress and the steps we take in the future must be rooted in science and evidence-based policies that will make our communities healthier and safer.
Gil Kerlikowske is the director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

82 thoughts

  1. no way they would agree with a global commission, then they couldnt sell there legal herion to us any more! Pain killers. Come to florida its an epidemic! Lost so many good friends to the goverment drug dealers!

  2. It is true! Regardless of how one feels about what they can put in their body without government’s approval, “hard drugs” and drug addiction/abuse [is] a social and health problem, and should be addressed as such. Harm Reduction is without question the answer to that problem. However – with regards to cannabis – three facts are absolute, and “cannot” be proven false.
    1. Cannabis is “not” addictive.
    2. Cannabis is “not” a gateway drug.
    3. Cannabis [the safest substance known to man] is “not” a dangerous drug – if a drug at all.
    Anybody that takes exception with this does so at the risk of losing all credibility as a person with any intelligence at all. And – “That’s all I have to say about that.”

  3. Wow reading these comments all these people understand it, nothing we can really do but keep lighting up an say fuk em.

  4. I always have a slight heart attack when I hear someone say – “there’s nothing we can do about it.” Well! there is something “we can do about it.” The thing is “we have to do it.” Action speaks louder than words. We are known by our actions. Action talks – and – bullshit walks.
    What can we do? You can get one [only one] other person to agree that the truth is found in Scientific Conclusion. Even the Drug Czar agrees with that. We can get one other person to Mandate/Demand Scientific Conclusion. If you can get one other person to do that – you have conquered the world – and – succeeded in your own world. JUST DO IT!

  5. We also must concentrate on the organizations that fuel these mindsets, particularly one group of high interest: NDIC (National Drug Intelligence Center) that has fueled the Drug War mentality for many decades. Check out their “report”, it’s a joke. We have to take down the structure of these organizations, otherwise we’ll have an uphill battle with States-based/legislative actions. Jobs will be lost, people will be hated, but lives will be saved. “Illicit drugs” are the only healthcare subject that according to NDIC requires “criminalizing” people. They claim we have to pay “double”, once to take care of the individual drug abuser, and once to “jail” them. Drug Czar recently claimed “drugs” cost society $80 billion annually (of note: over $140 billion spent on diabetics healthcare), but failed to mention that $104 billion (and more) is spent solely on criminalization and incarceration, and associated “loss of productivity”.

  6. Is police chief and police superintendent the same job? If so, I don’t think ol’ Gil got the job. Was listening to WGN chicago in the car earlier and they were going to have an interview with the new ‘top cop’ and it wasn’t the drug czar.
    If they are two different jobs, I apologize. And of course, the Drug Czar is full of shite. Obama’s policy is no different than previous presidents – just a bit more money for treatment while stiff spending billions on international interdiction efforts that are a colossal waste of taxpayer money and cost countless lives south of the border. We are exporting a dangerous policy and we share the blame – all of us – for allowing out tax money to fund this.

  7. It’s pretty annoying how when Gil is approached with a cannabis question, he begins speaking about “drugs” as if every drug is the same thing with a different appearance. Also, his claim that legalization will result in increased use just doesn’t ring true to me. Cannabis should be legal, without question. Decriminalizing other “harder” drugs isn’t a bad idea, either. Our prison systems should be filled with people that committed actual crimes, not some trembling addicts who probably won’t experience any rehabilitation at all from incarceration. I wish Gil would just cut the crap, already. The collective “us” that share these opinions are far smarter than all the turds in DC believe us to be. But for some weird reason, they still continue to release numerous thoughtless, bullshit-laden statements that leave everyone with good sense going “What?!”

  8. So, the drug tzar says the government tries to send more citizens to rehab than to prison?
    These bureaucrats want to force citizens into re-education camps instead of prisons! What a sweet heart.
    You bastard! What about our constitutional freedom and liberty?
    In the next election, I am voting against every incumbent, whoever they are. I don’t care who I vote for, but I am determined to vote against everyone responsible for the current mess.

  9. Kerlikowske is a sleazeball, and an idiot. And so is Obama and everyone else who supports him. This Einstein is convinced marijuana is dangerous. If he had any sense, that should be reason enough to legalize it. (Governmental control of anything is impossible when it is prohibited; if it was legal, at least it could be regulated) But he doesn’t, as he also claims there are no scientifically published results on the medical use of marijuana. Is he also oblivious to the legal medical marijuana that’s now available in a few states?

  10. Gil could just as well be describing the effects of alcoholic drinks…it’s a double standard. Our government defines freedom for us…what’s up with that?

    06/09/11 16:47
    If you are a Prohibitionist then you owe us answers to the following questions:
    #1. Why do you rejoice at the fact that we have all been stripped of our 4th amendment rights and are now totally subordinate to a corporatized, despotic government with a heavily armed and corrupt, militarized police force whose often deadly intrusions into our homes and lives are condoned by an equally corrupt and spineless judiciary?
    #2. Why do you wish to continue to spend $50 billion a year to prosecute and cage your fellow citizens for choosing drugs which are not more dangerous than those of which you yourself use and approve of such as alcohol and tobacco?
    #3. Do you honestly expect the rest of us to look on passively while you waste another trillion dollars on this garbage policy?
    #4. Why are your waging war on your own family, friends and neighbors?
    #5. Why are you so complacent with the fact that our once ‘free & proud’ nation now has the largest percentage of it’s citizenry incarcerated than any other on the entire planet?
    #6. Why are you helping to fuel a budget crisis to the point of closing hospitals, schools and libraries?
    #7. Why do you rejoice at wasting precious resources on prohibition related undercover work while rapists and murderers walk free, while additionally, many cases involving murder and rape do not even get taken to trial because law enforcement priorities are subverted by your beloved failed and dangerous policy?
    #8. Why are you such a supporter of the ‘prison industrial complex’ to the extent of endangering our own children?
    #9. Will you graciously applaud, when due to your own incipient and authoritarian approach, even your own child is caged and raped?
    * It is estimated that there are over 300,000 instances of prison rape a year.?* 196,000 are estimated to happen to men in prison.?* 123,000 are estimated to happen to men in county jail.?* 40,000 are estimated to be committed against boys in either adult prisons or while in juvenile facilities or lock ups.?* 5000 women are estimated to be raped in prison.
    External Link
    #10. And will you also applaud when your own child, due to an unnecessary and counter productive felony conviction, can no longer find employment?
    Private prisons are publicly traded and their stock value is tied to the number of inmates. Here’s what the UK Economist Magazine thinks of the situation: “Never in the civilised world have so many been locked up for so little” External Link
    According to Paul Craig Roberts, a former editor of the Wall Street Journal and former assistant secretary to the treasury under Ronald Reagan, “Police in the US now rival criminals, and exceed terrorists as the greatest threat to the American public.”
    “Narcotics police are an enormous, corrupt international bureaucracy and now fund a coterie of researchers who provide them with ‘scientific support’, fanatics who distort the legitimate research of others. The anti-marijuana campaign is a cancerous tissue of lies, undermining law enforcement, aggravating the drug problem, depriving the sick of needed help, and suckering well-intentioned conservatives and countless frightened parents.” – William F. Buckley, Commentary in The National Review, April 29, 1983, p. 495
    There is no conflict between liberty and safety. We will have both or neither.?William Ramsey Clark (1927–)

    It’s been legal since Dronabinol. You can get it by prescription. What is illegal is the whole plant material. That is why the “natural THC extract” has been restricted – but – that is changing. The problem is – it will be controlled by Pharma and medicine. Government and its cronies are simply not going to give up the profits. Let’s get real – would you?

  13. O.k. What about the real issue here. It comes down to personal freedoms. Prohibition was an experiment that has failed terribly. Prohibition creates way more social discord than the sometimes problematic personal decisions made while experimenting with mind altering states of mind. I thought that all men were created equal. To have the freedom to choose to pursue happiness in any fashion we see fit as long as I do not create victims by my actions. There is NO crime without a victim. We have to remember that the government is supposed to work by the will of the people. We are not run by a dictator or a king but by a citizens that we elect to run our government by OUR will. We need to take back our country from the banks and big business. It is the will of the mass people not a few with big $$. We need to let them know where we stand and demand reasonable policy. Know that you are only as free as you are willing to be and fight for. If they know these policy’s have failed and we know that these policy’s have failed why are they still on our books? I think I have ranted enough here. Please get in touch with your government officials and let them know how you feel.

  14. Hilary had it right! – there’s too much money it for them to give it up – way too much money. So! While we’re fighting, shedding tears and blood – their laughing their ass off and reaping in the bucks. Here’s the thing to remember – they don’t give a rat’s ass about us or what we want. They care even less about our Constitution and its liberties. Now! does the piss you off enough to do something about it?

  15. “The DEA scheduling actually has Marijuana as Schedule I and the FDA has “opium as schedule II; so the DOJ thinks MJ is worse than Opiom? ummmm…I don’t think so

  16. ps correction should read The DEA scheduling actually has Marijuana as Schedule I and the DEA has “opium as schedule II; so the DOJ thinks MJ is worse than Opiom? ummmm…I don’t think so…

  17. If you buy my thesis (see #31 above) that marijuana prohibition is a device for suppressing “marijuana paraphernalia”– ANY device for “smoking” i.e. VAPORIZING small amounts (25 mg) of any herbal substance, marijuana, tobacco or other, instead of a hot burning overdose 500-mg joint or 700-mg commercial $igarette (whence cometh the Big 2WackGo profit margin)– you may be asking, as many do above, what we can now do about it??
    There is a SILVER BULLET SOLUTION and it is Wikipedia!
    Google “One-hitter”, “Hashish”, “Cannabis smoking”, “Cannabis (drug)” (sic) etc. and you find that the Wikipedia article of matching name is the #1 most consulted information source on the planet. According to an October 2010 study at “The Full Wiki” the “One-hitter” article was getting 1191 hits a day; “Hashish” over 6000, “Cannabis (drug)” over 27,000 etc. (The public out there has been told cannabis is a drug, so that’s usually the article they check out first.) WIKIPEDIA HAS THE READERS– maybe thousands of times as many as this Norml website good as it is.
    Please take some time to study tutorials on correct Wikipedia editing (to avoid getting in trouble with police-like presecutorial editors– Wikipedia is like the USA with a disproportionate number of banned editors sitting in “blocked” prison somewhere in cyberlimbo). Then go to the cannabis- and tobacco-related articles, click on “HISTORY”, and study how a small number of devoted “prohibitionist” editors (including one with a username which looks like a reference to “marijuana prison”) have fought to minimize coverage of one-hitters and maximize the “normalcy” of “joint”-smoking; or, on articles about tobacco pipes, to exclude any pictures of ones that are SMALL (which INHALANT smokers, by far the majority worldwide, could be persuaded to shift to away from $igarettes).
    The English language WP is by far most important, but also check out NL:WP, the Dutch language division: at the top of one cannabis-related article, if I understand correctly, the UNCITED, purely SPECULATIVE claim is being made that the English word “joint” refers to the joining of cannabis and tobacco in a single $igarette. Claims like that should not be poermitted in Wikipedia articles, but it shows how much clout the $igarette industry has worldwide.
    The main cannabis article on the Polish language WP contains a pictorial guide (contrary to rule: “WP:NOTHOWTO”) showing how to roll a joint containing both a lot of brown stuff (tobacco) and a little green stuff (marijuana). I can’t edit that section up till now because the public library IP in my city is BANNED from editing on Polish WP (due to vandalism); so please go there, take out that picture and substitute another one (available on some other WP’s) which shows a joint being rolled with only green stuff!
    The last week of May one editor DELETED from the English-lang. WP “Hashish” article a reference to an Australian Department of Health report with a quote indicating that the “practice of mixing cannabis and tobacco can lead to unintended nicotine addiction.” I “reverted” that edit, but the same editor subsequently accused me of “threatening” him and there is now a vote in progress on the “Noticeboard of Incidents” to ban me from editing for a week (they couldn’t pass a motion for a longer term).
    So hey guys, get in there, turn into Wikipedia editors (you’ll experience a feeling of WORLD POWER you never had before) and “Help Wikimedia Change the World” (bold 2008 fundraising slogan– MAKE THEM LIVE UP TO IT)!

  18. PS. Why bother charging into battle against the “joint” on Wikipedia, etc.? Because if (A) cannabis smokers desert rolling papers and take up one-hitters (calumet, kiseru, midwakh, sebsi and certain narrow-bowl, long-stemmed Jamaican chillums), (B) 1.2 billion poor puffsucker nicotine $igarette addicts (worldwide) may follow, CUTTING OFF THE OVERDOSE PROFIT MONEY used by Big 2WackGo to bribe governments ($ig taxes), politicians (campaign money– check out Giuliani), cops, moviemakers etc. to KEEP CANNABIS ILLEGAL.

  19. How can an honest man – stand there and tell a “bold faced lie” to the American people – knowing that they believe he is as full of shit [as] a Christmas goose. Of course – it makes perfect sense that he is mandated to do it – but also – the pressure from his capo must be a tremendous weight to hold up. I wonder just how anxious he is to get out from under the gun – and – get back to “real honest police work.” Let’s wish him well – and – send him off gracefully. I wish this news would have been about Michelle Leonhart. Well! I can wish in one hand – and – shit in the other – and – see which one fills up first.

  20. Where does this kirlikowski guy get off lying about everything he opens his mouth about. Drug use is the same, if not more than ever. It seems like every drug czar aims their fascist minds towards cocaine, yet he doesnt even know enough about drug culture to realize theres a huge boom in heroin use especially among teens and young adults. Hes even wrong about his cocaine use facts, and he hides behind a report from a european source, the UN? Really?
    Then he actually has the stupidity to say that all the poorest latin countries support illegilization so we should too? HELLO? ANYBODY HOME?
    of COURSE these countries are “supporting” illegilization, thry make BILLIONS from shipping drugs into our country and to our youth, especially black tar heroin, and all this is only possible while kirlikowski remains (or at least pretends to remain) ignorant to the fact this wouldnt be possible if it wasnt for HIM keeping illegal drugs scheduled and highly illegal. I have good friends who are in prison for LIFE becaise they couldnt stop their heroin addiction and on the third felony arrest for personal amounts, they threw away the key and i will never see my childhood bestfriend ever again. Kirlikowski, I feel sorry for how great you feel about this “PROGRESS” BUT I FEEL MUCH DIFFERENTLY AFTER HEARING MY BEST FRIEND IVE KNOWN SINCE I WAS FOUR BEG TO BE EXECUTED IN A COURT ROOM BECAUSE HE DIDNT WANT TO SPEND THE REST OF HIS LIFE IN A BOX OVER SOMETHING HE WAS POWERLESS OVER. Shame on you

  21. celestial seasonings is’nt more free than THC used to back in 1973 i’ve heard…

  22. Marihuana hinders athletic performance and is still illegal in this state. I object to marihuana staying illegal in the southland forever and would propose or second any legislation to legalize it completely or decriminalize it to a house plant other civil infraction…

  23. Tashiki religious freedom is worth reading others responding but it’s in the grey area till there ant farm tenants and that’s not the betterway. I still wait for the secretly admired to give a call for us together for the ludwig von misses institute divy party it and your thick plastic card.. I’ve got many other things to do.. All three cannnabis law reform groups could become corrupted when they expand there cause I’m not for it. Unpopularity zaps others blackbooks just like it could mine but has’nt yet but gotten too thin…

  24. Mr.marihuana drug czar, your idea is not working. Forty years is way to long for this to keep going on and on. You people are killing us, with your asinine laws on marihuana! I want to know, is there a heroin czar, how about a meth czar, and a cocaine czar, or ONLY a marihuana czar????? All you have is something that will not kill you and the easiest to find, just take a smell and you found it!Pitiful, just pitiful!!!

  25. I have been burn’in since 1969. 1971 got drafted and served in Germany as Military Police smoking hash everyday. I did not know that I have a disease. Come on South Carolina, this state is so pround to be different. Let’s be the first southern state to have Medical Marijuana.

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