International Cannabis Business Conference

Former Drug Czar Now Customs and Border Commish

Gil Kerlikowske
Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske took a hard line against marijuana during his four-plus years in the White House. (Cronkite News)

The Obama administration's leading proponent in the War on Drugs, Gil Kerlikowske, exited his position as Drug Czar late last year and has pivoted into the head job at Customs and Border Protection, clearly a step down from the nation's foremost drug warrior. On Mar. 6, Kerlikowske was confirmed as commissioner by the Senate and was sworn in by Pres. Obama on Mar. 7.

During Gil Kerlikowske's tenure two states legalized marijuana and six more voted for medical marijuana.

The former Seattle police chief was considered a moderate when he was appointed, but proved to be a hardliner. He consistently questioned the legitimacy of medical cannabis and on many occasions issued statements against marijuana legalization.

However, unlike his predecessors, Kerlikowske did not campaign against measures like Washington's I-502 and Colorado's Amendment 64, which both legalized marijuana in 2012.

The states that passed medical marijuana are: Arizona (2010), Delaware (2011), Connecticut and Massachusetts (2012), and Illinois and New Hampshire (2013). Washington, DC overturned a ban in 2010.

During Kerlikowske's four-plus years at the White House, hundreds of dispensaries were raided and closed in California, Washington, Montana, Colorado and Michigan.

“Kerlikowske will never be remembered as Drug Czar for the great work that he did, but for what he didn’t do,” says Dominic Holden, news editor of Seattle publication, The Stranger.

Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of CelebStoner.com, former editor of High Times and Freedom Leaf and co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness.