Drug Law

Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske Makes Media Rounds

| by NORML

The Seattle Times published their account of Friday’s meeting with Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske here.

Excerpt from ‘An Hour with the Drug Czar‘:

The Editorial Board’s meeting with Gil Kerlikowske turned into a big deal. Kerlikowske, the former police chief here in Seattle, is now director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. In other words, he’s the “Drug Czar” — a title he made fun of in our meeting when he responded to a question by saying, “If I knew the answer, I’d be more than a czar. I’d be king.”

In the paper of Sunday, Feb 20, The Times published an editorial arguing that marijuana be legalized, regulated, taxed and sold by the state of Washington. Two days later we received a request from Kerlikowske’s office that he wanted to talk to us; he could pay a visit March 4 at 2:45 p.m. Sure, we said.

Clearly this was because of our editorial. I recalled a year ago, when I wrote a column saying that legalization was coming, and that I favored it, that I received a call from Kerlikowske’s office for the first (and only) time. The Director would like to talk with me, the woman said. Would I be available at 3:00 the following afternoon? Yes, I said, I would. I wondered if he was going to chew on my ear, but in the event he missed the call, and instead sent me a copy of a speech he had given to police chiefs in San Jose.

This time around, the word got out, probably through me, that he had asked to speak to the Times Editorial Board. Dominic Holden of The Stranger called me and asked me about it and put out a report on their blog, The Slog. Holden quoted me accurately, but his headline framed Kerlikowske’s visit as an attempt to “bully” The Seattle Times. It was a stretch to call it that. Holden wrote that it was “an apparent attempt by the federal government to pressure the state’s largest newspaper to oppose marijuana legalization. Or at least turn down the volume on its new-found bullhorn to legalize pot.”

NORML, The National Organization to Reform the Marijuana Laws, picked up the story from The Slog. Paul Armentano, deputy director of NORML, portrayed Kerlikowske’s visit as an effort to “squelch” our mainstream-media voice.

Later on Friday, Mr. Kerlikowske was interviewed on KCTS…