Obama’s new drug war: More treatment, less prison time

White House Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Gill Kerlikowske speaks to the media about the Veteran Treatment Court at the NADCP 18th Annual Training Conference, on Thursday, May 31, 2012 in Nashville, Tenn. (Frederick Breedon / AP Images for The National Association of Drug Court Professionals)

White House Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Gill Kerlikowske speaks to the media about the Veteran Treatment Court at the NADCP 18th Annual Training Conference, on Thursday, May 31, 2012 in Nashville, Tenn. (Frederick Breedon / AP Images for The National Association of Drug Court Professionals)

President Barack Obama’s new strategy for fighting the nation’s drug problem will include a greater emphasis on using public health tools to battle addiction and diverting non-violent drug offenders into treatment instead of prisons, under reforms scheduled to be outlined by the nation’s drug czar Wednesday.

Gil Kerlikowske, director of the National Drug Control Policy, is scheduled to release Obama’s 2013 blueprint for drug policy at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore.

Millions of people in the United States will become eligible in less than a year for treatment for substance abuse under the new health care overhaul.

“We know that if drug treatment is done early it is usually more effective, and it’s usually less costly than longer term, because drug addiction is a progressive disease,” Kerlikowske told The Associated Press in an interview ahead of Wednesday’s announcement.

The strategy also includes a greater emphasis on criminal justice reforms that include drug courts and probation programs aimed at reducing incarceration rates. It also will include community-based policing programs designed to break the cycle of drug use, crime and incarceration while steering law enforcement resources to more serious offenses, according to details of the strategy released by Kerlikowske’s office.

“I think the important part is that a lot of criminal justice experts and police chiefs and sheriffs — my colleagues for many years and myself included — recognize that with a drug problem you can’t arrest your way out of the problem, and so we really need to be smart on the drug problem,” Kerlikowske, a former Seattle police chief, said.

Kerlikowske will be joined by Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Tony Batts, Baltimore’s policy commissioner, and Dr. Eric Strain, director of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment and Research at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.

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Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2013 Capitol Hill Blue

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4 Responses to "Obama’s new drug war: More treatment, less prison time"

  1. Jillian Galloway  April 24, 2013 at 9:14 am

    Marijuana is FAR less harmful than alcohol, and we could prevent a lot of the harm that alcohol causes by letting people choose marijuana instead of alcohol.

    It’s wrong to arrest hundreds of thousands of people every year when instead we could *reduce* harm and addiction in society!!

  2. woody188  April 24, 2013 at 10:33 am

    The Federal government is being forced to re-evaluate the drug war due to funding and the fact that more and more states are ending prohibition in favor of sensible regulation, with two states even allowing recreational use, and 16 medicinal use of marijuana. They either will get with the program, or become irrelevant in the discussion and the solution.

  3. Malcolm Kyle  April 25, 2013 at 4:15 am

    Nothing to see here except a Corporate Puppet, dense smoke, and a couple of cracked mirrors.

    “What of the cripple who hates dancers? What of the ox who loves his yoke and deems the elk and deer of the forest stray and vagrant things? What of the old serpent who cannot shed his skin, and calls all others naked and shameless? And of him who comes early to the wedding-feast, and when over-fed and tired goes his way saying that all feasts are a violation and all feasters lawbreakers?”
    —Khalil Gibran

    It is the Prohibitionists, a wholly malignant scourge of absolute scoundrels, who are literally strangling the Constitution and starving Freedom to death. And until the Freedom and Constitution of our once proud and prosperous nation is secured, these same prohibitionist parasites, with their promotion of organized crime, murder, terrorism, and economic recession—and who carry with them a disease far fouler than Old Testament leprosy—shall be hunted down, removed from public life, and punished accordingly.

    Prohibition is an absolute scourge —The End!  The use of drugs is NOT the real problem, the system that grants exclusive distribution rights to violent cartels, terrorists, and corrupt politicians most definitely IS.

    Prohibitionists are simply traitors that haven’t yet been Tried and Executed!

  4. Walter F. Wouk  April 25, 2013 at 8:16 am

    More treatment, less prison translates into forcing pot smokers into rehab clinics instead of acknowledging that there is no legitimate rationale for Marijuana Prohibition.

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