Obama Taps Police Chief for Administration Job

Obama Taps Police Chief for Administration Job
Posted by CN Staff on February 11, 2009 at 06:04:38 PT
By Steve Miletich and Mike Carter
Source: Seattle Times 
USA -- Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske has accepted a job in the Obama administration, most likely overseeing the nation's drug policies, according to sources familiar with the chief's plans.Kerlikowske, who has led the department for more than eight years, has told the department's top commanders he expects to leave to take a top federal position, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they aren't officially authorized to disclose the information.
One source said the Seattle office of the FBI had received a "special presidential inquiry" ordering a comprehensive background check on Kerlikowske in anticipation of his taking a position in the administration.Kerlikowske, 59, whose law-enforcement career spans 36 years, declined to comment Tuesday.Seattle FBI spokeswoman Robbie Burroughs said the agency doesn't discuss background checks.Sources say Kerlikowske is expected to be named head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, a Cabinet-level position otherwise known as the drug czar. The office, established in 1988, directs drug-control policy in the U.S. It's subject to Senate confirmation.Edward Jurith, the current acting drug czar, declined to talk about Kerlikowske when called at home in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday evening."Nope. No comment. I can't talk about it," he said.The White House communications office did not respond to a telephone message left after-hours Tuesday.Kerlikowske had also expressed an interest in the top job at the federal Drug Enforcement Administration but apparently has not been tapped for that post, one source said.Kerlikowske has told his command staff that he likely will leave by this summer and possibly much earlier, sources said.  Close To AG Holder Kerlikowske, who was appointed Seattle chief in 2000 by then-Mayor Paul Schell, had worked the previous two years as deputy director of the Justice Department's community-oriented policing division during the Clinton administration.Sources said Kerlikowske established ties in Washington, D.C., and has a strong relationship with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who served as deputy attorney general during the Clinton years.Kerlikowske won credit for stabilizing the police department after the stormy departure of Norm Stamper as chief in the wake of the 1999 World Trade Organization riots in Seattle, as well as the department's initial failure to unearth a detective's alleged theft of money at a crime scene. A genial Kerlikowske reached out to citizens. In addition, crime rates dipped during his time as chief, reaching historic lows in recent years.But his tenure has been rocky at times, marked by controversy over allegations that he was too soft when it came to disciplining officers in misconduct cases.New rules recommended by a mayoral panel were put into place last year to make the chief more accountable, including a requirement that he explain his reasons for reversing disciplinary recommendations made by the department's Office of Professional Accountability (OPA). Chief's Background Kerlikowske began his career as a street cop in St. Petersburg, Fla., in 1972 and went on to serve as chief in two Florida cities, Fort Pierce and Port St. Lucie.He became the first department outsider to lead the Buffalo, N.Y., department in the 1990s, and left there for the deputy-director position in the Department of Justice's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, a post he was appointed to by then-President Clinton, according to his biography on the Seattle Police Department's Web site.Kerlikowske lists one of his accomplishments as the development of less-than-lethal force options for officers, equipping dozens of officers with Tasers. He also oversaw the installation of cameras in the department's patrol cars.Currently, he serves as president of the Major Cities Chief's Association, which consists of police leaders from the country's 56 largest metropolitan areas.He has been an advocate of gun control and fought to pass the assault-weapons ban and has championed closing the background-check loophole at gun shows.Alex Fryer, spokesman for Mayor Greg Nickels, said the mayor would have no comment on whether Kerlikowske is leaving. "We're just not saying anything about it," he said.  How He'd Be Replaced If Kerlikowske departs, an interim chief is likely to be appointed, a City Hall source said. Deputy Chief Clark Kimerer, the department's second-ranking official, and Assistant Chief Nick Metz would be possible candidates, along with retired assistant chief Herb Johnson, who was highly praised for his performance as acting chief after Stamper's departure.Kerlikowske is the region's second prominent official apparently headed to the Obama administration. Last week, King County Executive Ron Sims announced that Obama was nominating him to be deputy secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.Sims, who had been campaigning for a fourth term as county executive, awaits Senate confirmation for the HUD job.Kerlikowske arrived in Seattle with a reputation as a progressive and intellectual law-enforcement official.But his standing with the public and his own officers suffered a major blow in 2001 over handling of the Mardi Gras riot that led to the death of 20-year-old Kristopher Kime and 70 injuries.Nickels, the incoming mayor that year, considered removing Kerlikowske but kept him after a private meeting between the two.The mayor ultimately became one of the chief's staunchest supporters, backing Kerlikowske's handling of discipline in the department.Nickels also supported Kerlikowske when the city's police union voted no-confidence in him in 2002 after the chief publicly reprimanded an officer for being rude to a group of young jaywalkers. Rank-and-file officers were also upset that commanders weren't disciplined for not quickly intervening to quell the Mardi Gras riot.But Nickels bent to public pressure in 2007, when the chief came under criticism for his handling of officer discipline after a controversial downtown drug stop and the violent arrest of a man outside a nightclub. Nickels appointed the panel that recommended stricter standards for police oversight and accepted its proposals. "Oh God Bless Us" Kerlikowske's possible role in shaping drug policy for the Obama administration was applauded Tuesday by local medical-marijuana advocates.In 2003, Kerlikowske opposed a city ballot measure, approved by voters, to make marijuana possession the lowest law-enforcement priority, saying it would create confusion. But in doing so, he noted that arresting people for possessing marijuana for personal use was already not a priority."Oh God bless us," said Joanna McKee, co-founder and director of Green Cross Patient Co-Op, a medical-marijuana patient-advocacy group. "What a blessing — the karma gods are smiling on the whole country, man."McKee said Kerlikowske knows the difference between cracking down on the illegal abuse of drugs and allowing the responsible use of marijuana.Douglas Hiatt, a Seattle attorney and advocate for medical-marijuana patients, said his first preference would be for a physician to oversee national drug policy.But Kerlikowske would be a vast improvement over past drug czars, who have used the office to carry out the so-called "war on drugs," Hiatt said.Kerlikowske is a "very reasonable guy" who would likely bring more liberal policies to the job, Hiatt said.Seattle Times staff reporters Jennifer Sullivan, Christine Clarridge and Ian Ith contributed to this report.Source: Seattle Times (WA)Author:  Steve Miletich and Mike Carter, Seattle Times Staff ReportersPublished:  Wednesday, February 11, 2009 Copyright: 2009 The Seattle Times CompanyContact: opinion seatimes.comWebsite: Articles:Obama's Marijuana Prohibition Acid Test Obama Must Keep Marijuana Promise
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Comment #32 posted by Patrick on February 12, 2009 at 09:30:48 PT
All I can say is...
John Waters I hope the door hits you in the arse on the way out and good riddens!
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Comment #31 posted by FoM on February 12, 2009 at 06:39:39 PT
I am very happy! I can see a little light now.
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Comment #30 posted by FoM on February 12, 2009 at 06:38:35 PT
Paint with Light
It's really good to see you. I hope you are doing ok.
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Comment #29 posted by Paint with light on February 11, 2009 at 22:26:37 PT
Imagine, a drug czar that knows cannabis is less harmful than alcohol.Slowly, ever so slowly,things are changing.I think Obama has clearly sent a signal. Knowing that one of the main opponents to lessening the penalties for cannabis are the police, he picked one of their own to deliver the message of change. He picked someone who can speak with experience of the positive effects of changing the way we have looked at cannabis law enforcement over the past 36 years.For years "people" saw the "stoners" as a thing to ridicule.It now seems that more and more "people" are seeing the laws against cannabis to be the joke.Free as alcohol if not more free 
sounds good to me.
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Comment #28 posted by SoberStoner on February 11, 2009 at 21:56:17 PT
Not bad..
I've been in Seattle for the last few years, and hempfest is really an incredible experience. Last year I personally saw multiple people that were clearly puffing on blunts walk right past mounted cops and guess what? Nothing happened! Pretty damn amazing.Last week my fiancee saw someone wandering around downtown puffing on a joint too..Most people here dont give cannabis a second thought. Our biggest worry with drugs out here is all the meth that's around. Luckily the cops here seem to know that and generally leave us peaceful folk alone.All I know is that this guy cant be any worse than Walters or any of the other hateful psychotics that have been at that post before him. If anyone is going to stop the raids, it might just be him.
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Comment #27 posted by Had Enough on February 11, 2009 at 19:06:09 PT
Really off topic …but worth the read…
MARIJUANA FOUND IN LONG-SEALED CITY SAFEAlabama-------FAIRHOPE -- The event was planned and advertised weeks ago: At the new Fairhope Museum of History, officials would open a city safe that had been abandoned and unused since 1971. What would be inside? Nothing? Old city records? On Thursday morning, a crowd of nearly 30 Fairhopers watched as locksmith Nevitt Baker lifted away its heavy, black door. A musty smell filled the room, and the crowd laughed as news cameras and curious locals closed in on the open safe. One woman rushed her young son out of the museum, saying she didn't want him to see what was inside. A few called out the obvious -- its bottom shelves were filled with marijuana. The vault apparently had last been used by police investigators to stash drug evidence. "Here is somebody's name, somebody I remember, who would be terribly embarrassed right now," said Donnie Barrett, the museum's director, as he later examined a label attached to one of several matchboxes filled with dry, 37-year-old dope. "It looks like a whole bunch of dope is what we've found here. I wish it was a little bit more than that," Barrett said. The city's Police Department used the building until moving to its present offices in 2002, long after City Hall had moved in 1971. But paperwork stored in the safe alongside the marijuana seemed to indicate that none of it predated 1971, Barrett said. Why was this evidence left behind or forgotten? "That's not the sort of historical question we'd wanted to have to ask," Barrett said. "But it's better than nothing." Soon, police Cpl. Brett Murray arrived at the museum to confiscate the old contraband. "I kind of wish it had stayed closed because I liked the idea of wondering what was in there," Murray said. He said he and his friends had speculated about the safe's contents since they were young, when the building was being used by the Police Department. But its combination had been lost and its door had been painted shut, he said. Murray placed the decades-old evidence into a large, brown paper bag. He said he'd have it placed in the department's current evidence vault for later processing or disposal by investigators. Murray said he didn't know yet whether the rediscovered evidence would result in new charges. Baker, a locksmith based in Fairhope, said he'd used both manual and mechanical methods to open the 3cm HALF-foot-square safe, which was built in 1867. From research, he'd determined that its combination lock had three wheels. The wheels had 100 possible positions apiece -- each position represented by a number on the lock's dial. But only one succession of three numbers would open the lock. That meant that, just dialing numbers randomly, one had a 1 in 1 million chance of hitting the right combination, he said. The first number in the combination he found by hand, the method used by bank robbers in the movies, he said. But the other two wheels proved more troublesome. A built-in safety feature prevented finding their right positions by hand, Baker said. So he used a special robot that dialed the numbers randomly, then turned the latch each time. The robot unlocked the safe in about six hours, he said. The vault remained unopened for weeks as Thursday's event was planned and advertised. "We wanted it to be done publicly. We felt that whatever was in there belonged to the whole community," Barrett said. Among items in the safe were a green diary with a peace symbol drawn on its front, a cup containing a collection of small bags of marijuana, a few rolled joints, several matchboxes and small manila envelopes containing more marijuana with accompanying written materials, some drafted by officers and others by witnesses. "I'm a little disappointed that we didn't find a lot of history. We found a lot of dope," Barrett said.
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Comment #26 posted by FoM on February 11, 2009 at 17:19:01 PT
Source in D.C. Confirms Police Chief's Selection
Source in D.C. Confirms Police Chief's Selection as Drug Czar***February 11, 2009A source in Washington, D.C., confirmed Wednesday that Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske has been chosen to head the Office of National Drug Control Policy, but said paperwork that would make the nomination official has not yet been submitted.The source, who is familiar with the process, spoke on the condition of anonymity.A Police Department source told the Seattle P-I on Tuesday that Kerlikowske, 59, notified his executive staff last week that he had been selected by the Obama administration to serve as White House drug czar, a term commonly used for the cabinet-level post. Kerlikowske attended President Obama's inauguration ceremony on Jan. 20 along with a contingent of Seattle officers who were sent to provide extra security. Department sources said he abruptly returned to D.C. the following week and flew back to Seattle on Jan. 29, leading some to think that's when he was informed that he would be nominated.Copyright: 2009 Seattle Post-Intelligencer
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Comment #25 posted by FoM on February 11, 2009 at 13:49:18 PT
I hope you are having fun flying around. It really is news that has made me smile. Seattle Hempfest. It's so progressive. 
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Comment #24 posted by Dankhank on February 11, 2009 at 13:46:29 PT
great news
traveling today, flew from Denver to Dallas, now in D/FW airport awaiting connect to SW about connect ... haha ...Denver got some kind the pick for Tsar, coming from Seattle he knows some truths, likely.Peace to all who love the Tree of Life ...
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Comment #23 posted by FoM on February 11, 2009 at 13:01:57 PT
One More Comment
I already see articles that are angry about guns. When I see guns, gays or abortion I shake my head. Those words feed on the emotions of people who are scary people to me. He is going to be a drug czar and that's all. I will never get the logic of such anger and paranoia. That's all for now.
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Comment #22 posted by FoM on February 11, 2009 at 12:35:06 PT
I have never been to Seattle. Many from my generation headed out that a way and settled in years ago. I believe that Seattle is progressive from my observations but not from any experience. I finally feel a little bit of hope for a better day. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. Cops in general don't bother me since we need them. If he is progressive like I read we might be reaching a good point for reform. It won't happen over night but I've been waiting since the 60s. I've learned to be patient.
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Comment #21 posted by paul armentano on February 11, 2009 at 12:00:58 PT
NORML thoughts on next Drug Czar
 Seattle Post-Intelligencer: City’s Police Chief To Be Next Drug Czar
February 11th, 2009 By: Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director 
Share this Article       According to just published news reports, President Barack Obama has tapped Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske to be the nation’s next ‘Drug Czar.’From Seattle’s top cop to ‘drug czar’
via the Seattle Post-Intelligencer[excerpt]"Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske has been appointed to a law enforcement post within the Obama administration, which would return him to Washington, D.C., after almost a decade as Seattle’s top cop, sources said Tuesday.… Kerlikowske came to Seattle in 2000 after serving as deputy director in the Justice Department, overseeing the Community Oriented Policing Services grant program. A military veteran with 36 years in law enforcement, he spent four years as Buffalo’s police commissioner after starting his career in Florida."On the positive side, Kerlikowske hails from Seattle — a city that has elected to make the enforcement marijuana crimes cops’ lowest priority. And although the police chief spoke out against the initiative effort — which passed with 58 percent of the vote in 2003 — he’s abided by the will of the people since then. As a result, there are now fewer marijuana-related arrests in Seattle than in virtually any other major city in the United States.On the negative side, Kerlikowske is first and foremost a cop. He’s served 36 years in law enforcement, and it is foolish to assume that he will in any way embrace our issue with open arms. That said, I find myself in cautious agreement with NORML Board Member (and longtime Seattle resident) Dominic Holden, who believes that Kerlikowske may bring a “progressive” approach to an agency that has, almost since its inception, operated in the ‘Dark Ages.’The day the U.S. government finally — and properly — recognizes that drug use is a public health problem and not solely a criminal justice issue will be the day that the President appoints a White House ‘Drug Czar’ who possesses a professional background in public health, addiction, and treatment rather than in law enforcement.But until that day arrives, perhaps the best we reformers can hope for is a cop who appreciates that pot poses less of a danger to the public than alcohol, and who recognizes that from a practical and fiscal standpoint, targeting and arresting adults who engage in the responsible use of cannabis doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense. At first glance, Obama’s pick — unlike his predecessor John Walters — appears to possess both of these common sense qualities.
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Comment #20 posted by FoM on February 11, 2009 at 11:45:48 PT
From Seattle's Top Cop To 'Drug Czar'
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Comment #19 posted by FoM on February 11, 2009 at 10:59:06 PT
KOMO News: Kerlikowske Obama's New Drug Czar
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Comment #18 posted by FoM on February 11, 2009 at 10:48:45 PT
Seattle Police Chief To Become Nation's Drug Czar
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Comment #17 posted by FoM on February 11, 2009 at 10:37:44 PT
WA Lawmakers Considering Decreasing Pot Penalty 
February 10, 2009
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Comment #16 posted by OuttaLuck on February 11, 2009 at 10:30:17 PT
At least he is from a state that allows medical cannabis
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Comment #15 posted by FoM on February 11, 2009 at 10:24:30 PT
If you look at the pictures of Gil Kerlikowske I see a guy who might get it. A modern day doctor isn't someone I would want. A real doctor from back in the early days when money didn't influence them would be fine but they don't make them much anymore it seems.Pictures: Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske 
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Comment #14 posted by Sam Adams on February 11, 2009 at 10:21:54 PT
Police state fights back on Phelps
The local thugs have already invaded 8 peoples' houses and arrested them.
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Comment #13 posted by E_Johnson on February 11, 2009 at 10:12:44 PT
We must be careful what we wish for, FoM
"Excerpt: Douglas Hiatt, a Seattle attorney and advocate for medical-marijuana patients, said his first preference would be for a physician to oversee national drug policy."Like Dr. Don Vereen, who wants to jail patients? A person doesn't have to be compassionate, or even completely sane, to become a physician. I was afraid it would be him! I'm so relieved now to learn that it won't be him. That takes my anxiety level down a few pegs.I think this is a step forward overall. There many physicians out there who could have been a step backwards. I'm grateful we didn't end up with one of those. I was afraid we would for a while.
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Comment #12 posted by FoM on February 11, 2009 at 09:58:31 PT
To me life is always give and take. We can't always get what we want but I really do believe we get what we need.ROLLING STONES - "YOU CAN'T ALWAYS GET WHAT YOU WANT"
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Comment #11 posted by runruff on February 11, 2009 at 09:44:24 PT
We only get what we will settle for.
I sometimes count the "settlefores" in my life. I was never happy with the outcome. We are about to embark upon another period of the "settlefore democracy". It is the "at least he doesn't hit me on the head", rationalization. We the people deserve a people friendly government! For the feds to even assume they have jurisdiction or to pretend that they have the authority to govern the content of our gardens is the height of contrariness! We deserve a physician in the role of FDA Oversight Director and no Russian sounding drug police department head, at all! Federal Police of any kind is outlawed in the constitution and supported by the Federalist Papers.I am tired, tired, tired of settling for life and death issues that benefit the few at the cost of the many!I am a recovering settlefore. I will only settle for what is right from now on! 
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Comment #10 posted by FoM on February 11, 2009 at 09:43:16 PT
I am thrilled! I've been reading about Seattle. It is one of the most liberal cities in America. How could this not be good? I really don't know. Maybe people will get burnt by the old administration but the future looks positive to me. Onward to the future we go I hope.
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Comment #9 posted by unkat27 on February 11, 2009 at 09:21:20 PT
Time to Change Bad Laws
If he's really as friendly to medical mj as this article suggests, maybe he'd consider reversing the bad drug law that the feds use as an excuse for "just doing their jobs" when they raid mj clubs and bust mj patients. In this case, if he is as smart as we think, he could argue that human rights are being violated by bad drug laws.
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Comment #8 posted by MikeC on February 11, 2009 at 09:20:13 PT
Great news...
This is huge! I am thrilled to hear of this appointment.The times they are a changin...!!!
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Comment #7 posted by FoM on February 11, 2009 at 08:38:11 PT
I'm Smiling and Hopeful LOL!
Holly Dolly - Don't Worry Be Happy
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on February 11, 2009 at 08:05:58 PT
Seattle Hempfest
He seems like he has an open and progressive mind. I hope he does.
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Comment #5 posted by FoM on February 11, 2009 at 06:49:57 PT
Pictures: Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on February 11, 2009 at 06:41:23 PT
Has Obama Made a Good Choice for Drug Czar?
By Scott MorganFebruary 11, 2009The Seattle Post-Intelligencer is reporting that Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske will likely be Obama’s nominee for director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, commonly referred to as the drug czar. It appears that we may soon be faced with the most promising drug czar ever to occupy the position.To be clear, Kerlikowske is not a friend of drug policy reform to any extent I’m aware of. What matters here is that I see no evidence that he is a vicious drug warrior of the sort commonly associated with the drug czar post. Given that ONDCP is mandated to oppose reform efforts and has typically embraced that role, a less confrontational and reefer madness-driven drug czar is really the best case scenario from a drug policy reform perspective.Under Kerlikowske, Seattle has been a model for sensible marijuana policy, including the famous Seattle Hempfest at which the Seattle Police Department performs a public safety role while declining to make marijuana arrests. Following the passage of a 2004 lowest priority initiative, the city’s already-low rate of marijuana prosecutions fell even further, suggesting that Kerlikowske was responsive to the will of voters.In that sense, he offers a dramatic departure from ONDCP’s shameful history of undermining state medical marijuana laws and inserting itself into state politics for the purpose of thwarting reform efforts. In an office typically run by military officials and political hacks, Kerlikowske would bring expertise in community policing and public relations.As drug czar, I have no doubt that Gil Kerlikowske would oppose drug legalization and serve as our primary opponent on many issues. Nevertheless, at first glance, my gut instinct is that after several drug czars from hell, a guy from Seattle doesn’t sound so bad.Update: I'd be remiss not to mention that Kerlikowske's immediate predecessor was Norm Stamper.
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on February 11, 2009 at 06:33:09 PT
Seattle is a place that I always thought was progressive and that gives me hope. If he was from a southern state I would be freaking out. 
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Comment #2 posted by BGreen on February 11, 2009 at 06:30:31 PT
It would be nice if we actually see a difference
Can you imagine the benefits of not only having somebody bring a bit of compassion, empathy and common sense to the ONDCP, but also having somebody that brings honor and integrity to the field of law enforcement?The laws on cannabis aren't the only thing that have been disgraceful, the barbaric actions perpetrated by those serving us in the field of law enforcement have also led to their image and reputation being a casualty in this war on cannabis. There is so little respect and support for so many of the crazy cops out there that they have a hard time getting the majority of the public to help them, even on violent crimes including murder.We will all be very aware of the intentions of Mr. Kerlikowske once he begins his job. If he lies with impunity and stifles all debate then we'll all know that he is no different than Walters, Bennett and McCaffrey, et al..We WILL be watching and we WILL notice!The Reverend Bud Green
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on February 11, 2009 at 06:05:30 PT
Thank You!
Excerpt: Douglas Hiatt, a Seattle attorney and advocate for medical-marijuana patients, said his first preference would be for a physician to oversee national drug policy.But Kerlikowske would be a vast improvement over past drug czars, who have used the office to carry out the so-called "war on drugs," Hiatt said.Kerlikowske is a "very reasonable guy" who would likely bring more liberal policies to the job, Hiatt said.
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