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February 12, 2009

What does Prez Obama's pick for drug czar suggest for possible drug policy reform?

As detailed in this Seattle Times article, "Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske has accepted a job as the nation's drug czar in the Obama administration, according to a source in Washington, D.C., who is familiar with the administration's plans."  This Seattle Post Intelligencer article, which is headlined "Kerlikowske seen as a progressive," suggests advocates for drug policy reform are relatively pleased with the decision: 

Many people, including those traditionally at odds with government policies, were "cautiously optimistic" about Kerlikowske, who became police chief in 2000.

"He's likely to be the best drug czar we've seen, but that's not saying much," said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, a national nonprofit group focused on changing drug policies.

Nadelmann called Kerlikowske, 59, a "blank slate" because of his notable absence in drug-policy debates. But he was encouraged by the chief's ability to thrive in a city famous for its drug courts, needle exchanges, methadone vans and annual Hempfest celebration. "At least we know that when we talk about needle exchanges and decriminalizing marijuana arrests, it's not going to be the first time he's heard about them," he said.

Over at TalkLeft, Jeralyn in this post quotes some other reactions to the pick and expresses some faint praise.

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February 12, 2009 at 01:29 PM | Permalink

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