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May-16-2009 08:55printcomments

Life Under Gil Kerlikowske

Our government has done the studies and virtually every government study done has called for decriminalization or legalization of cannabis and a shift away from criminalizing addiction of the "harder" drugs.
This image shows the real results of the War on Drugs; the massive imprisonment of Americans. Courtesy:

(EUGENE, Ore.) - Our nation's new chief of drug policy (I will not willfully use the term "Drug Czar," viewing it as I do a strange title for our country to be using), former Chief of the Seattle Police Department, Gil Kerlikowske appeared in print, speaking for the first time in an interview with the Wall Street Journal's Gary Fields.

Seattle Chief Gil Kerlikowske

While no John Walters (the Bush administration's head of the White House Office of No Drug Control Policy - who suffers from a severe case of Reefer Madness, the sure signs of which are rabid anti-cannabism and avoidance of public debate), Kerlikowske still wears the mantle of our nation's head Prohibitionist.

In Fields' article, White House Czar Calls for End to 'War on Drugs', Mr. Kerlikowske sounds reasonable, for a professional Prohibitionist. He says many of the almost right things - support for needle exchange (even though the Obama administration did not remove the needle exchange ban in their budget proposal), dealing with addiction through treatment instead of incarceration...

But Chief Kerlikowske also said this:

"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," he said. "We're not at war with people in this country."

Oh really?

I heartily disagree sir. What else would you call it other than "war" when the government willfully and maliciously lies to maintain a policy that has made our nation -- a nation founded upon deeper principle than just our Bill of Rights and Constitution -- the world's largest and most voracious jailer? I'll be damned if it is not a war, sir... It IS very much a war and we, the people, are the prisoners of this war, we are the dead from this war, we are the soldiers in this war and every dollar paying for this war comes directly from our pockets and takes food off our tables.

This war, sir, has rent the very fabric of our society, with parents taken from their children and children from their parents. This war, sir, has corrupted our police, our politics and our military... this war, sir, has us spraying poison on the crops, livestock, families, rivers and lands of some of the most impoverished farmers in the America's, in Colombia.

This war, sir, takes truth and buries it. This war mocks science and ignores compassion.

This War On (some) Drugs will lose that title no sooner than it deserves to lose it. For now, we will indeed call it a war. Until such time that drug policy reform advocates have a voice at the table -- your table -- we will oppose this war and fight against it, through peaceful petition and a continuing campaign of education.

There has been enough obfuscation and delay. Our government has done the studies and virtually every government study done has called for decriminalization or legalization of cannabis and a shift away from criminalizing addiction of the "harder" drugs. [See the Schaffer Online Library of Drug Policy's Major Studies of Drugs and Drug Policy page for a collection of government drugs studies.]

The distressing fact of our mounting toll of innocent civilian drug war deaths must be acknowledged, officially. Someone in government must provide some justification for deaths like that of Kathryn Johnston, an elderly Atlanta woman shot by narcotics officers in a no-knock raid based on a falsified warrant. The officers involved then planted cannabis (marijuana) at the scene in an attempt to cover up their error.

And perhaps Mr. Kerlikowske someone -- maybe you -- can tell us why patients who use cannabis as medicine are denied their right to say so in a federal courtroom. And perhaps whomever speaks to us on this topic can tell us why Peter McWilliams was killed through official cruelty (surely withholding life saving medicine qualifies as a working definition of cruelty) while awaiting his trial in federal court. Or perhaps justify the prosecution of Morro Bay, California's Charles Lynch.

Or even better Chief, explain the Supreme Court's made up "drugs exceptions" to the Constitution. The 4th Amendment to the Constitution is written in plain, easy to understand language. Nowhere does it say "except."

Oh, and Chief K... when we do get that place at the "official" drug policy table? Please make sure your criminal justice peers from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) have at least a couple of chairs reserved for them.

Thanks for listening. And if I can help... just ask.


After receiving training as a photographer and photographic systems repairman in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War period, Allan Erickson went on to work behind the camera as a photojournalist (California Advocate, Fresno, CA), a commercial products table-top photographer (Gottschalks advertising, second camera behind Richard Eissler), and he has photographed weddings, anniversary celebrations, political meet-and-greets, concerts, baseball games (currently working for the Eugene Emeralds, the San Diego Padres' short season single A affiliate, as their team photographer), school events, kids' soccer, portraits and my favorite venue, nature.

More than anything, Allan Erickson cares about the health of Oregon and he works closely on drug policy issues as a member of LEAP, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Send Allan an email at this address: Visit Allan's blog as this link:

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stephen May 17, 2009 6:38 am (Pacific time)

google this: "portugal legalizes drugs 2001"... It was a proven positive success in all areas. Drug use went down among other positive outcomes.

Daniel May 16, 2009 4:10 pm (Pacific time)

This phony war has also diverted billions from education into incarceration . Many of the problems we are seeing today are a result of this diversion . We faired no better under clinton than the bushes, lets pray Obama does better .

Paul Jobling. May 16, 2009 2:26 pm (Pacific time)

It matters not what decisions will be made about future decriminalization of recreational drugs in the US, there are too many ultra right-wing 'fascist' states such as Arizona and Texas who will undoubtedly rally their populations to oppose anything mandated by federal law. If anything, they will redouble their effiorts to jail casual and recreational drug users...'How dare these people enjoy their lives without regard to God and republican dogma!' Don't hold your breath expecting Texas and Arizona to suddenly adopt reasonable stances, and quite frankly the rest of the nation already know it's a total waste of time to consider dragging the fascist states of America kicking and screaming into the twenty-first century. They are brain-dead.

Allan Erickson May 16, 2009 1:44 pm (Pacific time)

I'm shocked! (not...) We can be rather... ummm... abrupt, in our beneficence.

Daniel Johnson May 16, 2009 12:50 pm (Pacific time)

Allan: I was not aware there was a DEA office in BC. Because the US is our largest trading partner, our governments tend to be scared blind about any possibility of blowback from decisions that "might" offend the US. And, to be frank, the US has a history of being an economic bully and in some respects not a good neighbor, at all.

Allan Erickson May 16, 2009 12:10 pm (Pacific time)

@ Daniel: I remember when we first got wind that the DEA was (publicly) opening a new office in BC, we tried to warn you all to lock the bums out... what you have now is the failure to heed that warning. And I offer humble apologies to my northern neighbors for allowing that pestilence to spread beyond our borders. Our bad.

Daniel Johnson May 16, 2009 10:12 am (Pacific time)

Canada may seem, from the American point of view, to be more enlightened, we are actually just less brutal perhaps. From 1969-1972 we had the Le Dain Commission on the non-medical use of drugs. About 12,000 people attended and participated in those hearings which included many prominent people such as John Lennon. The final report recommended that cannabis be removed from the Narcotic Control Act and that the provinces implement controls on possession and cultivation, similar to those governing the use of alcohol. Nothing was done about this report's recommendations. We currently have a conservative government that is every bit as anti-drug your previous administrations, but it's predecessor government, about four years ago apparently prepared legislation decriminalizing marijuana but it was never introduced before that government was defeated. The only reason it has never been decriminalized, apparently, has been fear of the American response.

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.


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