Likely New Drug Czar Favors Intervention Over Arrests
As Police Chief in Seattle, R. Gil Kerlikowske wouldn’t have participants arrested during the yearly Hempfest, even though they would light up in full view of police officers. Even the ACLU said, “Police officers patrolling are courteous and respectful.”
Our drug policies are archaic. And the “war on drugs”, like the other “wars” on whatever, just perpetuate what is allegedly being fought. But with Kerlikowske being talked about as head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, there is hope for a more enlightened approach.
The anticipated selection of Chief Kerlikowske has given hope to those who want national drug policy to shift from an emphasis on arrest and prosecution to methods more like those employed in Seattle: intervention, treatment and a reduction of problems drug use can cause, a tactic known as harm reduction. Chief Kerlikowske is not necessarily regarded as having forcefully led those efforts, but he has not gotten in the way of them.
“What gives me optimism,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, “is not so much him per se as the fact that he’s been the police chief of Seattle. And Seattle, King County and Washington State have really been at the forefront of harm reduction and other drug policy reform.”
Kerlikowske has his critics and has had his controversies, but he is a more likely agent for change than many other potential choices for drug czar. The quesiton is, will this administration recognize that treatment, intervention, and other reforms will trump arrest and prosecution. Of course, no one is yet speaking on the record as to whether Kerlikowske is the choice for the job.Click here for reuse options!
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