Justice in Mexico

Drug Czar proposes a ‘third way’ for U.S. drug policy

Gil Kerlikowske, pictured here, is currently the ‘Drug Czar’ under the Obama administration. He recently proposed a new approach to the U.S. drug policy, one that focuses on treating drug addictions as a health-related issue instead of criminalizing it. Photo: Time

05/07/12 – The director of the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy, Gil Kerlikowske, recently proposed a new drug policy approach for the United States to follow. Given the ongoing “war on drugs,” which has resulted in an estimated 50,000 drug-related deaths (or ejecuciones) since 2006 in Mexico and which has been largely ineffective in decreasing the number of users in the United States–the number one drug consuming nation in the world–, Kerlikowske suggested it is time to think differently about how to control the drug trade and consumption. He pointed out that there are two opposite approaches currently in effect–one side supports the legalization of drugs, while the other side privileges the use of law enforcement to crack down on drug trafficking and consumption. 

According to ABC News, while speaking at the Center for American Progress, a think tank in Washington D.C., “Drug czar [Gil Kerlikowske]… promoted the White House’s new National Drug Control Strategy, which calls for a focus on treatment and prevention rather than punishment.” Kerlikowske mentioned that rather than criminalizing those who are addicted to drugs, the policy should focus on treating them with professional medical attention. His hope is that society treats addiction to drugs as a disease and not a crime. This, he said, would also lead to fewer incarcerations and to more court ordered treatments.

Kerlikowske did acknowledge that “if you’d asked [him] before [he] got this job about the disease of addiction, [he] would have said this is a moral failure, people just need to find God. If [he] regrets anything in [his] law-enforcement career, it wasn’t understanding and recognizing the disease of addiction and what a powerful ally law enforcement can be” in this new policy approach. According to El Diario, Kerlikowske said that this new ‘third way’ is coming from a new perspective. It is a progressive, innovative, based on evidence, and represents the future of drug policies not only in the United States, but in the world. 

Kerlikowske pointed out that drug related deaths are the number one cause of deaths, even above traffic accidents and deaths by firearms. In addition, Kerlikowske said that drug consumption amongst youth is being normalized, which poses a danger to the younger generation moving forward.


“La tercera vía en la guerra contra las drogas.” Wall Street Journal Spanish. April 29, 2012.

 “Busca EU ‘tercera vía’ contra drogas.” El Diario. May 1, 2012.

 “EE. UU dice que su nueva estrategia contra drogas es una ‘tercera vía.’” El Tiempo. May 1, 2012.

“Obama’s Drug Czar Stumps for ‘Third Way’ Policy.” ABC News. May 1, 2012.

5 thoughts on “Drug Czar proposes a ‘third way’ for U.S. drug policy”

  1. I don´t see Kerlikowske proposing any changes in drug laws. Under his supposedly different ‘third way’ consumption is still a criminal offense, evidently to be handled through drug courts. Also, there is no significant change in the drug budget. The majority still goes to interdiction of drugs and enforcement of prohibition laws. The language he and the Obama administration are now adopting is clearly their way to try to finesse the rising debate that is demanding real reassessment of drug policy. They talk of a ‘revolution’ but it is just a massaging of the old policy.

  2. The prohibitionist policy of the failed “war on drug” is clearly the central issue here. The criminalization of drug use, like the failed criminalization of alcohol in the 30’s does not reduce the consumption of drugs, it simply drives it underground. This in turn makes good citizens into criminals for the recreational use of something like marijuana. In capitalism, the buying and selling of a product can be a casual affair like a mom-and-pop store to a multinational enterprise system of production and delivery with sophisticated supply chains and business practices like Wal-Mart. Since the United States government has chosen force over reason to execute its Puritanical/moralistic will on the users and the suppliers, the business of drug production and supply must naturally meet force with force and thus all the killing and destruction. Legalization, control, taxation and education is the rational solution to the so-called “drug problem”. Drug consumption is not a disease, it is human nature. The new “third way” is nothing but rhetoric. It does not address the problem that the government wants to control human nature and it cannot.

  3. Pingback: What third way? « Drug WarRant

  4. Rehab instead of prison??? Unless this policy is going to fund rehab for the indigents and people unable too afford paying the fees and court costs,,then the minorities and poor white trash will continue to fill our prisons,,,oh,,that is the plan,,,you had me worried about my stock portfolio of industrialized prison stocks for a minute.

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