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Criminal Justice Conversations with David Onek: Gil Kerlikowske, White House Drug Czar

David Onek and Gil Kerlikowske

In Episode #1, Gil Kerlikowske, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (the White House "Drug Czar"), discusses ending the "War on Drugs," treating drugs as a public health issue, the problems of prescription drugs and drugged driving, the federal government's response to state medical marijuana laws, and more.

Gil Kerlikowske Interview Highlights

Kerlikowske on the War on Drugs:

"The war metaphor just doesn't work, because this is not just a public safety or a criminal justice problem, it is also - very, very much so - a public health problem... Calling it a war makes no sense."

Kerlikowske on Drugs as a Public Health Issue:

"The Obama Administration realizes and understands that addiction is a disease. And that isn't widely known. If you would have asked me ten years ago about addiction, I would have said it's an incredible moral failure and people should just get a backbone and straighten themselves up... You don't have to read a lot of the scientific journals and talk to a number of the researchers to clearly recognize and understand that addiction is diagnosable, it is a chronic disease, it is treatable."

Kerlikowske on Prescription Drugs and Drugged Driving:

"What people are not recognizing are two huge significant changes. One is prescription drugs. These aren't coming across the borders. These are coming out of  our own medicine cabinets, and more people are suffering from addiction and fatal overdoses through prescription drugs than through many other substances. The other is on drugged driving... I think these two issues - prescription drugs and drugged driving - are not getting anywhere near the attention that they should."


The Criminal Justice Conversations Podcast with David Onek features in-depth, thirty-minute interviews with a wide range of criminal justice leaders: law enforcement officials, policymakers, advocates, service providers, academics and others.

The Podcast gets behind the sound bites that far too often dominate the public dialogue about criminal justice, to have detailed, nuanced conversations about criminal justice policy.

Podcast host David Onek is a Senior Fellow at Berkeley Law School and a former Commissioner on the San Francisco Police Commission.

You can find more information on the Criminal Justice Conversations Podcast and listen to all past episodes on the Podcast web site.

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