Wednesday, March 11th, 2009


Obama Names Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske As Director of ONDCP

Drug-Legalizing Retired Seattle Chief Norm Stamper Comments

WASHINGTON, DC — Vice President Joe Biden announced the Obama administration’s nomination of Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske today as the nation’s next “drug czar,” formally known as director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Kerlikowske’s immediate predecessor as Seattle’s top cop, Norm Stamper, who is a member of a large and growing group of cops, judges and prosecutors who want to legalize all drugs, released the following statement.

“There’s hope. Gil Kerlikowske is a professional cop. While he didn’t favor certain drug policy reforms as Seattle’s police chief (marijuana as lowest enforcement priority, for example), he didn’t fight them. I know some law enforcement officials who’ve thumbed their noses at similar voter initiatives. Gil’s a strong supporter of drug treatment. These are promising signs.

“Also worth noting are the personal struggles Kerlikowske has undergone with substance abuse in his own family. Hopefully his stepson’s drug arrests have helped him to realize that making drugs illegal does nothing to solve substance abuse problems, and usually only makes them worse.

“The open question is whether he’ll entertain fundamental reform. It starts at the top. If the president and vice president signal a commitment to science, and to an honest conversation about the prohibition/drug war model, I think Gil will step up and lead the effort. Right now, that’s a big if.”

The Obama administration downgraded the ONDCP Director job from its previous cabinet-level status.

Stamper recently posted commentary on the Kerlikowske nomination on the Huffington Post: [url=][/url]

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) is a 10,000-member organization representing police, prosecutors, judges, FBI/DEA agents and others from around the world who fought on the front lines of the “war on drugs” and who learned firsthand that making drugs illegal only serves to make drug addiction and drug market violence problems worse. LEAP’s website is at [url=][/url].

Norm Stamper is available for interviews. Please contact Tom Angell at or 202-557-4979 for more information.