Drug Czar Ends Drug War, But Casualties Continue to Mount


This has been a crap couple of days for the U.S. economy. As The Smart Asset details, California is selling off assets to avoid total collapse. Congress is watering down the credit card bill, removing the 15 percent cap on rates. Chrysler is closing hundreds of dealerships, and last month wholesale prices and unemployment claims rose.

But the government, like your working press, likes to sweeten the mix with soft news, so we have the new Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Gil Kerlikowske, saying the War on Drugs is over — at least in name. “Regardless of how you try to explain to people it’s a ‘war on drugs,'” says Kerlikowske, formerly a drug-law-enforcement progressive police chief in Seattle, “…people see a war as a war on them.”

The Administration has been getting less warlike on drugs: they’re backing the Congressional drive to remove the federal sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine dealers, a major drug-war relic, and have ended the noxious practice of raiding medical marijuana suppliers in states where it’s legal.

It’s a nice change from the endless civil rights outrages of the decades of drug war. And for added value, it makes rightwingers mad! (“Kerlikowske is deluded, or just strung out, if he can not see the Obama adminstration war on the American people,” says BitsBlog. “The Obama adminstration is plannnig tax increases on everything to pay for ObamaCare, which now to include so-called drug treatment.”)

But we caution that Kerlikowske’s increased latitude is only a start. Obama is continuing the federal funding prohibition on needle exchange programs. Allison Kilkenny points out that drug-related arrests are still climbing, and no one in the Administration is talking about legalization as an option — despite that that recent White House online poll in which citizens told them to legalize weed. “At a time when the government claims there just isn’t enough money for every citizen to have healthcare,” says Kilkenny, “getting rid of the failed War on Drugs could fund numerous national programs, and spare the lives of innocent civilians.”