Obama's Drugs Czar: More Treatment For, Less War On

Kerlikowske says key is to reduce demand
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 12, 2009 10:25 AM CDT
Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske speaks after Vice President Joe Biden announced his nomination be the head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – President Obama’s choice for drug czar signals a 180-degree pivot from the Bush administration’s policies, the Washington Post reports. The White House says it’s pushing to use alternative drug courts that would mandate treatment, rather than jail, for offenders. That’s a big break from President Bush’s hard-line approach, which focused mostly on staunching the flow of illegal drugs from abroad.

“The success of our efforts to reduce the flow of drugs is largely dependent on our ability to reduce demand for them,” says Gil Kerlikowske, the Seattle policeman nominated to the post. “Our nation’s drug problem is one of human suffering.” Special drug courts have existed since the 1980s, but until now have been used in only about 55,000 of 1.5 million cases each year.