Thursday, May 14, 2009

War on (some) Drugs over?

I'd love to believe that the new Drug Czar is really going to end the War on (some) Drugs, but this isn't all that encouraging.
In his first interview since being confirmed to head the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, Gil Kerlikowske said Wednesday the bellicose analogy was a barrier to dealing with the nation's drug issues.
"Regardless of how you try to explain to people it's a 'war on drugs' or a 'war on a product,' people see a war as a war on them," he said. "We're not at war with people in this country."
I suspect the hundreds of thousands of non-violent drug offenders who are currently behind bars or under court supervision would beg to differ. But the rest of his words are soothing.
The Obama administration is likely to deal with drugs as a matter of public health rather than criminal justice alone, with treatment's role growing relative to incarceration, Mr. Kerlikowske said. [...]

The administration also said federal authorities would no longer raid medical-marijuana dispensaries in the 13 states where voters have made medical marijuana legal. Agents had previously done so under federal law, which doesn't provide for any exceptions to its marijuana prohibition.
Well and good, except that at least two medical marijuana dispensaries have been raided in California since Obama took office. Still, I don't want to be too negative. We'll give them some time to walk that talk. But until the raids stop and the drug funding goes into treatment centers instead of SWAT teams, I'm not popping any champagne. When I see the czar call for the abolition of mandatory minimum sentencing and forfeiture laws, I'll start celebrating. Until then, it's all just rhetoric.

Update: I see Jacob Sullum shares my skepticism.

[More posts daily at The Detroit News]

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