White House drug czar Gil Kerlikowske is leaving office unceremoniously, forgotten long before he was known to most Americans, says the Seattle Times. For those leading the push to legalize marijuana, he'll be remembered as the tough-talking former Seattle police chief who never yielded on the question of legalization, always warning of the health dangers linked to smoking pot. That stance put him at odds with the growing majority of Americans who back legalization, including voters in Washington state.
As Kerlikowske, 63, heads for a job as the U.S. Customs and Border Protection commissioner, his exit prompts suggestions that the drug czar job has become irrelevant and that no replacement is needed. “One of the most helpful things the president can do right now is to not spend money on filling that position,” said Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes, who stopped prosecuting misdemeanor marijuana cases in 2010. Critics say the office, created in 1989, has no real power beyond doling out grants and providing a soapbox for government officials to decry drug use. For the budget year starting Oct. 1, it asked Congress for $311 million, including $23 million to pay 97 employees.