Behind the Curtain at TMM

Questions For The U.S. Drug Czar?

I am dashing to a meeting with the leader of an organization that does extensive work on human rights overseas. I heard he was in town so I just asked if I could pop over and hear a bit more about the group’s priorities, how they set them, and what they are working on. I don’t do a lot of those kinds of meet-and-greets. I would do more ( scheduling lunch with me is a nightmare..really) but honestly, it rarely works with our production schedule. We need to maximize our in-studio time to make sure that the program sounds as good as it can whether the segments are live or on tape.  I may be telling you more than you want to know but ...

We are looking forward to our conversation with Gil Kerlikowski, head of the office on National Drug Control Policy, the so-called Drug Czar.

Remember when this was considered an out of the box idea…creating this position? Bill Bennett, the conservative author and pundit, was the first Drug Czar, serving under George H.W. Bush. I covered that White House and I distinctly remember an interesting thing about the press conference when Bennett’s selection was announced. A reporter asked him if he was planning to quit smoking.  His reason was that cigarettes —while legal— are addictive, and if you use them long enough, even as intended, they will kill you. And I recall that a number of reporters laughed at this question, at this very idea, like it was a joke, which it was not.

Bennett, to his credit, did not laugh, and said he was considering it. I believe he did end up quitting smoking.

It just goes to show you how the zeitgeist has changed. Not so long ago people thought smoking tobacco cigarettes was perfectly ok to do, despite the obvious and long term and negative health effects. The tobacco industry would come down like a hammer on anybody who tried to question the benefits of smoking or to raise health concerns, even though those health concerns had been known for decades. But these days, smoking tobacco is something that governments work very hard to deter through high taxes and other means.  And interestingly, the harsh criminal sanction for the use of marijuana is being reconsidered. As has been widely reported on this network and others, a number of states are considering decriminalizing the possession of marijuana and  moving to allow its medical use in a less restricted fashion. So our attitudes about these things really do change.

I am looking forward to my conversation with Mr. Kerlikowski, and if YOU have any questions for him, please do send them along. I am not asking you to do my homework, but we’d love to hear from you! Thanks!

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