Despite hopes of “drug war” critics that Barack Obama would side with them as president, his drug policies “by and large have been remarkably similar to his predecessor’s,” says Reason magazine. Obama's drug czar Gil Kerlikowske has said that, “we certainly ended the drug war, now almost two years ago,” but he was speaking of the rhetoric (Kerlikowske has declined to use the “war on drugs” slogan).
Kerlikowske says the U.S. is dealing with drugs “as a matter of public health rather than criminal justice alone, with treatment's role growing relative to incarceration.” Reason says, “So far this much-ballyhooed shift has not been perceptible in Obama's drug control budgets. Even if it were, moving money from law enforcement to “treatment and prevention” would hardly amount to ending the war on drugs.” With the exception of supporting a change in federal law on crack cocaine sentences, Obama has not delivered what reformers hoped he would. His policy on medical marijuana is in some ways even more aggressively intolerant than George W. Bush's, featuring more-frequent raids by the Drug Enforcement Administration, ruinous IRS audits, and threats of prosecution against not only dispensaries but anyone who deals with them. “I initially had high hopes,” says Marsha Rosenbaum, formerly of the Drug Policy Alliance, “but now believe Obama has abdicated drug policy to the DEA.”