Top Drug Official: The Old War On Drugs Is All Wrong

Despite 44 years of aggressive policing and incarceration at the cost of a trillion dollars, 21 million Americans are still addicted to drugs or alcohol. The drug epidemic in America is at its worst ever, because the war on drugs, says Michael Botticelli, was all wrong.

Botticelli, the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, has embarked on a new strategy he thinks is starting to make a difference. And the more compassionate approach that he espouses comes from his own experience: Botticelli is the first “drug czar” to be a recovering addict himself. Scott Pelley’s interview with this reformer will be broadcast on Sunday Dec. 13 at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

Botticelli hates the term “drug czar.” “Because I think it connotes this old “war on drugs” focus to the work that we do. It portrays that we are clinging to the kind of failed policies and failed practices in the past,” says Botticelli.

Was the war on drugs all wrong? asks Pelley. “It has been all wrong,” he says. “We can’t arrest and incarcerate addiction out of people. Not only do I think it’s really inhumane, but it’s ineffective and it cost us billions upon billions of dollars to keep doing this.”

The Last Drug Czar?

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  It might as well have been a lifetime ago when Gil Kerlikowske began his job as the nation’s top drug official back in 2009.

When President Obama appointed him to be director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy—a position known as the “drug czar”—only a dozen-plus states had legalized medical marijuana; a poll showing a minority of Americans support legalization could still be considered “record breaking;” and the disparity in sentences for users of crack and users of cocaine was still 100-1. The idea that two states would soon fully legalize the recreational use of marijuana seemed absurd. [Read more…]

The Last Drug Czar?

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  It might as well have been a lifetime ago when Gil Kerlikowske began his job as the nation’s top drug official back in 2009.

When President Obama appointed him to be director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy—a position known as the “drug czar”—only a dozen-plus states had legalized medical marijuana; a poll showing a minority of Americans support legalization could still be considered “record breaking;” and the disparity in sentences for users of crack and users of cocaine was still 100-1. The idea that two states would soon fully legalize the recreational use of marijuana seemed absurd. [Read more…]

It’s Getting Harder For The Feds To Lie About Marijuana And Get Away With It

By Paul Armentano / AlterNet

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Publicly lying about pot isn’t as easy as it used to be.

That’s the lesson White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (aka the Drug Czar’s office) Deputy Director Michael Botticelli learned earlier this week when he testified before U.S. House Subcommittee on Government Relations. Armed with what appeared to be crib notes from the days of Reefer Madness, Botticelli’s spurious anti-pot testimony immediately became the subject of Internet video fodder and mainstream media criticism. Even more tellingly, Botticelli’s comments drew stern rebukes from federal lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. [Read more…]