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Ending the War On (certain) Drugs?

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Ganja View Drop Down
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  Quote Ganja Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Ending the War On (certain) Drugs?
    Posted: 18 May 2009 at 12:02
I'm not sure whether to feel optimistic about this announcement.

On one hand, I've never heard a highly placed US official (especially their 'drug czar' who is traditionally a propaganda-spouting nutcase) speak this openly about the WOD.

On the other hand, we may just be seeing a rebranding and relaunch of exactly the same policies under a fluffier, more victim-friendly name.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124225891527617397.html

White House Czar Calls for End to 'War on Drugs'

Kerlikowske Says Analogy Is Counterproductive; Shift Aligns With Administration Preference for Treatment Over Incarceration

"WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration's new drug czar says he wants to banish the idea that the U.S. is fighting "a war on drugs," a move that would underscore a shift favoring treatment over incarceration in trying to reduce illicit drug use.

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."

Gil Kerlikowske, the new White House drug czar, signaled Wednesday his openness to rethinking the government's approach to fighting drug use.

Mr. Kerlikowske's comments are a signal that the Obama administration is set to follow a more moderate -- and likely more controversial -- stance on the nation's drug problems. Prior administrations talked about pushing treatment and reducing demand while continuing to focus primarily on a tough criminal-justice approach.

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.

Already, the administration has called for an end to the disparity in how crimes involving crack cocaine and powder cocaine are dealt with. Critics of the law say it unfairly targeted African-American communities, where crack is more prevalent.

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.

During the presidential campaign, President Barack Obama also talked about ending the federal ban on funding for needle-exchange programs, which are used to stem the spread of HIV among intravenous-drug users.

The drug czar doesn't have the power to enforce any of these changes himself, but Mr. Kerlikowske plans to work with Congress and other agencies to alter current policies. He said he hasn't yet focused on U.S. policy toward fighting drug-related crime in other countries.

Mr. Kerlikowske was most recently the police chief in Seattle, a city known for experimenting with drug programs. In 2003, voters there passed an initiative making the enforcement of simple marijuana violations a low priority. The city has long had a needle-exchange program and hosts Hempfest, which draws tens of thousands of hemp and marijuana advocates.

Seattle currently is considering setting up a project that would divert drug defendants to treatment programs.

Mr. Kerlikowske said he opposed the city's 2003 initiative on police priorities. His officers, however, say drug enforcement -- especially for pot crimes -- took a back seat, according to Sgt. Richard O'Neill, president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild. One result was an open-air drug market in the downtown business district, Mr. O'Neill said.

"The average rank-and-file officer is saying, 'He can't control two blocks of Seattle, how is he going to control the nation?' " Mr. O'Neill said.

Sen. Tom Coburn, the lone senator to vote against Mr. Kerlikowske, was concerned about the permissive attitude toward marijuana enforcement, a spokesman for the conservative Oklahoma Republican said.

Others said they are pleased by the way Seattle police balanced the available options. "I think he believes there is a place for using the criminal sanctions to address the drug-abuse problem, but he's more open to giving a hard look to solutions that look at the demand side of the equation," said Alison Holcomb, drug-policy director with the Washington state American Civil Liberties Union.

Mr. Kerlikowske said the issue was one of limited police resources, adding that he doesn't support efforts to legalize drugs. He also said he supports needle-exchange programs, calling them "part of a complete public-health model for dealing with addiction."

Mr. Kerlikowske's career began in St. Petersburg, Fla. He recalled one incident as a Florida undercover officer during the 1970s that spurred his thinking that arrests alone wouldn't fix matters.

"While we were sitting there, the guy we're buying from is smoking pot and his toddler comes over and he blows smoke in the toddler's face," Mr. Kerlikowske said. "You go home at night, and you think of your own kids and your own family and you realize" the depth of the problem.

Since then, he has run four police departments, as well as the Justice Department's Office of Community Policing during the Clinton administration.

Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance, a group that supports legalization of medical marijuana, said he is "cautiously optimistic" about Mr. Kerlikowske. "The analogy we have is this is like turning around an ocean liner," he said. "What's important is the damn thing is beginning to turn."

James Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, the nation's largest law-enforcement labor organization, said that while he holds Mr. Kerlikowske in high regard, police officers are wary.

"While I don't necessarily disagree with Gil's focus on treatment and demand reduction, I don't want to see it at the expense of law enforcement. People need to understand that when they violate the law there are consequences."

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  Quote Ganja Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 May 2009 at 12:19
Norm Stamper, a member of LEAP writing for the Huffington Post makes a very good point about the US budget being a good predictor of we can probably expect from this apparent reform:

“So, in retiring the phrase from the federal lexicon will we really be ending the "War on Drugs"? Hardly. We can reasonably expect in the face of Kerlikowske's pronouncement, an expression of shock and a circling of the wagons from key institutional forces, from frontline drug warriors to profiteering drug traffickers; from well-meaning but naïve PTAs to patronizing, fear-mongering politicians; from Big Pharma to the prison industrial complex. There's just too much at stake, financially and ideologically, to end this remarkably divisive and durable war.

Is the Obama administration serious about implementing drug policy reform? We all know the significance of a presidential budget. It's essentially dollars and cents representing policies and priorities. What does the administration's "National Drug Control Budget" tell us about the Obama approach to drug issues?

In the 2010 budget, prevention takes a 10.6 percent hit while domestic law enforcement gets a boost of 2.3 percent, with "interdiction" (military and police actions designed to stem the flow of drugs into and about the country) gaining 4.4 percent. On the positive side of the ledger, treatment shows a 4.4 percent increase. And what of the never-ending seesaw battle between supply and demand initiatives? Unfortunately, demand reduction efforts (education, prevention) are down 0.8 percent, while (generally futile) supply reduction initiatives (enforcement, burning or poisoning crops) gets a 2.7 percent bump.

Still, it's way too early to dismiss the Obama/Biden/Kerlikowske approach as just so much smoke and mirrors. The country is a-rumble with signs of change.”

Norm Stamper

Retired Seattle police chief, member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/norm-stamper/new-drug-czar-were-not-at_b_203711.html


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  Quote Ganja Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 May 2009 at 10:42
bump
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  Quote Solidopc Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 May 2009 at 11:32
Load of old tosh. Just getting rid of a slogan, not the policies. All bloomin talk i rekon. It's all so low down on their list of things to do anyway, even if Obama is in office for two terms, i don't think any major changes will be made. Only good thing is they are stopping raiding medical dispensries, and legal medical growers.


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  Quote Jonney Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 May 2009 at 21:17
Just had a glance there. Will give it a good read when i've finished the dinner!

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  Quote skunkfunk Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 May 2009 at 17:18
There are sound bites of hope in this latest news. The writing is on the wall as they say, whether it stays there is another thing. I think there maybe a change coming, but then again it remains to be seen. I know there are a lot of Americans who voted in a phone in poll on legalizing cannabis and a lot of Christian folk are too.
 
Personnally I think there should be a radical reform in these times of prohobition on all drugs. We need to stop the harm of hard drugs for starters and that IMO includes cig's and booze.
 
There can only be hope. Government will never win a war on drugs or however they put it.
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  Quote patch Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 June 2009 at 12:57
Just wish we had a better man in power!
        to at least impose some change here in the uk :(

Although we always follow the american's like there little friend!
So maybe we will too here about medical dispensries, and legal medical growers?

But first its moved out to a class "C" then back to a claas "B",  
Sigh just don't know where i stad with these people!
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  Quote breizh ganja Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 July 2009 at 09:39
yep generation of smokers arrive in power so we hope!!!
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  Quote DonQuichote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 August 2009 at 21:37
"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,"


Well, maybe that is just because Americans fight everything with jet bombers. The war on terror is not fought with intelligence, but with jet bombers. If the USA wants two men, they just bomb two countries (and find only one person).

The first thing I heard of the war on drugs was using aircraft against drug fields in South America.

Even the war on justice will probably be fought with aircraft strikes: The USA has declared war on the international court of justice, whenever an American is brought to trial. To be fought with military means...
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  Quote DOULOS Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 October 2009 at 00:44

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