Obama choosing Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske to become the next drug czar in Washington, D.C., at first, looks like the same old beltway logic: cops and prison terms are the snake-oil cure for drug addictions. Some change, Obama. Right?
And nationally, Kerlikowske could be a drug czar who pushes to lift the federal ban on funding needle exchange, stops the medical pot raids in California, overhauls our nonsensical anti-drug commercials, and enthusiastically seeks funding for drug-treatment programs.
The brilliance of Obama’s pick for drug czar is not just finding someone who is open to new strategies, but someone who nonetheless holds undeniable qualifications as a cop. Nobody can claim Kerlikowske is a public-health nut who doesn’t know the impact of drugs on the streets. Like many Americans, he agrees that drugs should be illegal. But he understands the place for low priorities and public health—and he's willing to step back where enforcement alone has failed.
I haven't heard of this man up 'til now, but on the face of it and the strength of this one piece, he sounds pretty good. Like maybe he's got a brain. We'll see.