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Chattin’ with the Czar

The Seattle Times blog post yesterday on their hour-long discussion with Gil Kerlikowske, informally called the “Drug Czar,” is well worth reading as an indicator of attitudes and shifts in attitudes.

The Times, you’ll recall, broke sound ground among larger regional newspapers on February 20 by editorializing in favor of legalizing marijuana. That was apparently enough to prompt Kerlikowske to ask for a sit-down with the editorial board. If he had any thought of changing the paper’s direction, though, it seems to have fallen flat: “As it turned out, he was cordial and almost laid-back. At one point he steered the conversation to prescription drug abuse, which had nothing to do with our editorial. When we asked him about legal marijuana he did disagree with us, but so gently that some of the attendees wondered why he had come at all.”

He did offer, the post says, a couple of arguments in favor of the criminal ban, but they were so weak as to be easily swiped away, and were by the blogger. (The reference is toward the bottom of the post.)

More telling, maybe, was this description of the Obama Administration’s stance: “The Obama administration’s “middle position” on drugs that leans toward treatment but requires penalties also, he said, because about half the users who go into treatment “have to be encouraged.””

This sounds a little like the kind of thing the Clinton Administration tried do, concerning gays in the military, back in 1993 with Don’t Ask Don’t Tell: A policy that is all-but-openly just an interim step. It has that kind of sense to it.

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