New White House Drug Czar and former Seattle police chief Gil Kerlikowske didn't wait long before making big waves as the top drug enforcement officer in the country.
In his first public appearance since being confirmed on May 7, Kerlikowske, in a new interview with the Wall Street Journal, said he wants to end the “War On Drugs” and said he favors policies that emphasize making treatment available to drug users rather than putting them behind bars.
Kerlikowske spoke with unusual candor about the failure of the War On Drugs' approach. With about one in every 31 Americans either incarcerated, on parole, or on probation, his ideas, once considered radical, may find a more receptive audience than ever before. Many people are serving time in the United States after being convicted of non-violent drug crimes.
Kerlikowske's break with “War On Drugs” rhetoric was dramatic: “We're not at war with people in this country,” he told the Journal. “Regardless of how you try to explain to people it's a 'war on drugs' or a 'war on a product,' people see a war as a war on them.”