Seattle's Top Cop Picked for Drug Czar

Kerlikowske viewed as reformer, with personal experience of drugs' "devastating effects"
By Gabriel Winant,  Newser User
Posted Mar 11, 2009 6:50 AM CDT
A protester who identified himself as "Farmer Dave" holds a sign protesting Drug Enforcement Agency raids on medical marijuana clinics in Los Angeles Tuesday, May 27, 2008.    (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
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(Newser) – President Obama will officially nominate Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske to be drug czar today, reports the Seattle Times. Though the job is being demoted from its Bush administration Cabinet status, Kerlikowske will have “a direct line to the president and vice president,” says an official. Drug law reformers view Kerlikowske, who said Seattle marijuana arrests were not a priority, as an ally.

Kerlikowske was rumored to be Obama’s pick for weeks, but the nomination was held up by the arrest last week of his son, whose police record includes marijuana possession and distribution. The nominee is expected to acknowledge his son's problems in accepting Obama’s offer. “As a police officer, but also in my own family, I have experienced firsthand the devastating effects that drugs can have,” says his prepared statement.