Thursday, March 12, 2009

R. Gil Kerlikowske, New Drug Czar

The Washington Post reports on the appointment of the new Drug Czar. Seattle Police Chief R. Gil Kerlikowske will head the Office of National Drug Control Policy. In a clear departure from the Bush Administration's approach, treatment instead of incarceration will be part of the new plan.

Chief Kerlikowske said "it's an incredibly complex problem." Formerly the focus was on cutting the supply of illicit drugs from foreign countries; now it will be on curbing drug use in communities across the United States.
"The success of our efforts to reduce the flow of drugs is largely dependent on our ability to reduce demand for them," Kerlikowske said yesterday at a ceremony attended by his former law enforcement colleagues. "Our nation's drug problem is one of human suffering, and as a police officer but also in my own family, I have experienced the effects that drugs can have."

Kerlikowske's adult stepson, Jeffrey, has been arrested in the past on drug charges, an issue that the police chief referenced in his remarks yesterday.

During the campaign, President Obama promised to offer first-time, non-violent offenders a chance to serve their sentences in a drug rehabilitation center rather than in prison. With this initiative, the administration will be embracing an idea that has broad support in theory but has yet to be widely practiced. What do you think? Is this part of the solution? Certainly this would ease the prison overpopulation problem, but would it produce better results with regards to reducing the demand for drugs in America?

What about the question of personal responsibility? Isn't a lot of this policy based upon the idea that drug addicts are less culpable for their actions simply because they're addicted? Is that a problem? Does it undermine the foundation of holding people to a standard of personal behaviour? If the addict gets a break, say treatment instead of prison, does that somehow harm the non-addicted offender who has to do jail time? Is that what the responsibility demanders are upset about, that it's not fair?

What's your opinion?


  1. One of the most important steps to reducing the traffic of illegal drugs is to make the business less profitable.

    In Italy, last year, there was an study of the water quality of the Tiber...I believe it was the Tiber River and based on the analysis, the researchers found enough cocaine residue to project that 4 out of every 10 Italians was doing coke....

    I seriously doubt those numbers or the validity of the research, but I do see the casual drug use here in Europe and in America.
    Obviously, drug use is tolerated in and not treated serioussly by the elite. They can afford to pay the prices for coke and pot.

    Because people will pay exobitant prices for these products, it becomes a highly profitable if risky is worth it for a poor person to take a risk.

    I won't even touch upon the other side of the drug supply, the clandestine funding of security operations...creating a "black" untracable source of funding for questionalble operations by government security forces.

    Drugs are a plaguue of the modern world, but it's a plague that has always affected societies.
    Some societies have been able to deal with it better than others.

    I would say that the first step to dealing with it in a better way is to cut the hypocrisy.

  2. Back in the 80s, I lived in Miami. They had one of those studies about the cash money. Traces of coke were on almost all the $100 bills.

    I like what you said about hypocrisy. I hope the States is moving in the right direction now. If Obama can survive the economic crisis, he might be able to do some good in these other areas. And they're all inter-related anyway.