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Seattle Police Chief to Be Named New Drug Czar

February 12, 2009
by Daniel Guarnera
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The Seattle Times and ABC News are reporting that President Obama has selected Seattle chief of police R. Gil Kerlikowske as his first drug czar. His official bio can be found here.

Kerlikowske has been the chief law enforcement officer in Seattle since 2000, after former chief of police Norm Stamper resigned following the much-publicized World Trade Organization riots in 1999 (the so-called "Battle in Seattle"). Kerlikowske's career began as a street cop in St. Petersberg, Florida, and he went on to lead the Buffalo, N.Y. police department. He also spent time in the Clinton Administration, where he was the Deputy Director in the Department of Justice's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. While at the Department of Justice, it's been reported that he developed a close relationship to Eric Holder, the Obama Administration's new Attorney General.

For observers trying to ascertain what this nomination will mean for the nation's controversial "war on drugs," Kerlikowske--like many Obama appointees--eludes simple ideological classification. Although he opposed a city ballot initiative to make marijuana possession the lowest law-enforcement priority, some pro-medical marijuana advocates in Seattle have been quoted in support of Kerlikowske's nomination. Many treatment and recovery advocates were hoping for a drug czar with a clinical, rather than the more traditional law enforcement, background, but on the other hand Washington State is well known for its innovative treatment system, and so it's possible that Kerlikowske will come into his new role with some new ideas to develop the American treatment system.

Kerlikowske's nomination has not yet been officially announced by President Obama.

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Be shocked if there is a substantive change to the insane "War on Drugs" in favor of treatment and prevention.

Daniel Guarnera

Daniel Guarnera is the Director of Government Relations for NAADAC, The Association for...