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Who Will Be Obama’s Pick For ‘Drug Czar’?
Saturday, January 03, 2009 - from the NORML Blog

Is saving the Drug Czar nominee as the last cabinet pick indicative of the low priority assigned by the incoming Obama administration to the so-called ‘War on Drugs’? With the entire cabinet nominated (save for US Ambassador to the United Nations and director of the Central Intelligence Agency), who is President–elect Obama going to nominate as director of the Office Of National Drug Control Policy?

To date, Obama has prioritized the cabinet nominations of: Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, Secretary of Treasury, Secretary of Homeland Security, Attorney General, Secretary of Interior, Secretary of Commerce, Secretary of Health and Human Services, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Secretary of Education, Secretary of Agriculture, Secretary of Transportation, Secretary of Labor, Secretary of Environmental Protection Agency, Secretary of Veteran Affairs, National Security Adviser, Director of National Intelligence, Director of National Economic Council, Director of Securities and Exchange Commission, US Trade Representative and Director of Office of Management and Budget.

But no Drug Czar (or Czarina)!

Obama told the media that his entire cabinet would be nominated before he is to begin his last semi-sane holiday break this week with his family. But that didn't happen. Hmmmmm. One wonders why not? Looks like one reputed nominee for Drug Czar, retiring Republican congressman Jim Ramstad of Minnesota is getting hung up in the political vetting process.

Some in the media and in drug policy reform inform NORML that Atlanta police chief Richard J. Pennington might emerge as the potential nominee. Some speculate that current Drug Czar transition team leader, Dr. Don Vereen, might pull a ‘Cheney’ and offer himself up as the best person to head the ONDCP.

Whatever the case and whomever the nominee, is the ONDCP nominee and their staff going to closely adhere to Obama’s stated goal that health (and environmental) policy-making in his administration, unlike the current Bush White House, will be guided by contemporary and credible science—and not ideology or politics? In one of Obama’s weekly radio addresses, he asserted that science and rational thinking is going to instruct much of his decision-making in the realms of education, public health and environmental protection.

To demonstrate this, Obama nominated two prominent scientists and not "political hacks" to fill important science policy-making roles in his new administration. “Because the truth is that promoting science isn’t just about providing resources – it’s about protecting free and open inquiry. It’s about ensuring that facts and evidence are never twisted or obscured by politics or ideology. It’s about listening to what our scientists have to say, even when it’s inconvenient - especially when it’s inconvenient. Because the highest purpose of science is the search for knowledge, truth and a greater understanding of the world around us. That will be my goal as President of the United States.” - President-elect Barack Obama

NORML certainly hopes that Obama’s professed support for science over political ideology logically extends to repairing and overhauling the country’s totally flawed and decidedly unscientific approach in administering a functional and economical criminal justice system—fueled in large part by antiquated and misguided illicit drug laws, notably the abject failure of 70 plus years of cannabis prohibition laws.

In the interim, please join thousands of other drug policy reform supporters, with a bit-of-tongue-in-cheek, in advancing Drug Policy Alliance director Ethan Nadelmann, Ph.D as Obama’s next Drug Czar. Now that is change I can believe in!

Who President-elect Obama nominates for Drug Czar will strongly demonstrate whether or not he genuinely believes in science as a guiding principle in replacing failed, feckless, racist and politically expedient law enforcement efforts to ‘control’ drugs with, ultimately, effective, commonsense, scientific and public health-based alternatives to America’s failed war on some drugs.

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