Local Doctor Wants Shot at Drug Czar's Job

Local Doctor Wants Shot at Drug Czar's Job
Posted by FoM on January 30, 2001 at 09:12:48 PT
By Carol M. Ostrom, Seattle Times Staff Reporter
Source: Seattle Times
Some people might wonder what Dr. Rob Killian was smoking when he applied to President Bush to be drug czar. But the champion of medical marijuana says he was clear-eyed and serious about his effort to change national drug policy.Killian, a Seattle family-practice doctor who was the prime mover behind the 1998 state initiative that legalized marijuana for medical use, e-mailed Bush Thursday, formally applying to be director of the Office of Drug Control Policy. 
"The failed drug war and the source of drug addition can scarcely survive another four years of false starts and misuse of public policy and budgets that ignore the true problem," Killian wrote Bush.Although Killian has no illusions that he'll be going to Washington anytime soon, he felt compelled to speak his mind about the failure of the war on drugs. And, as it turns out, he has lots of company these days, including local judges, legislators and prosecutors.Killian's letter was circulated by Fred Noland, president of the King County Bar Association, who has received hundreds of responses to his columns in the bar's newsletter, contending that the war on drugs has failed and that it has caused even greater social problems, including clogged courts, revolving-door punishment and lack of money for treatment. Among those who responded was King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng, who plans some "fairly dramatic changes to drug policy" locally, says Dan Satterberg, Maleng's chief of staff. Drug cases now make up 38 percent of that office's felony caseload.Among those plans are a re-focus on treatment, said Satterberg, including sending some of those offenders formerly destined for prison to treatment instead. "Norm has long had the feeling that law enforcement has been left to do all the work in the effort against illegal drugs and that the treatment infrastructure has never been built adequately," Satterberg said. "He has some ideas about how to do that." The details will be forthcoming in proposals to state legislators over the next few weeks, Satterberg says. Those who responded to Noland's column also included dozens of judges. "To a person, they have said we need to rethink our whole approach," Noland said. In more than a decade, said Alice Paine, executive director of the bar association, there has never been such an outpouring of response to a column.Is there, as Paine suggests, a sort of "harmonic convergence" of thought on the subject, with folks from both sides of the aisle clamoring for changes? Noland thinks so, pointing to the movie "Traffic," which he describes as the "first popular-culture challenge to the assumptions of the drug war." And in California, some drug offenders now get mandatory treatment instead of jail time.Washington legislators want change, too. Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson, D-Seattle, said this week she will introduce a bill that would require treatment instead of prison for nonviolent drug offenders. "It's time to get the conversation going - right now," she said. So while he doesn't expect to get to Washington, Killian does expect to see some changes in local laws. "What we're doing isn't working and it's causing harm to our community, because our budgets are being destroyed, our kids are laughing at us and drug use is increasing." Source: Seattle Times (WA) Author: Carol M. Ostrom, Seattle Times Staff ReporterPublished: Tuesday, January 30, 2001Copyright: 2001 The Seattle Times CompanyAddress: P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111Fax: (206) 382-6760Contact: opinion seatimes.comWebsite: Articles & Web Site:Washington Citizens For Medical Rights Madness Commission Expands Medical Uses of Marijuana for Medical Marijuana
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