Marijuana-legalization nemesis Kevin Sabet is crowing that "longtime friend of SAM Regina LaBelle" has been named Acting Director and Deputy Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) - i.e., the Drug Czar's office.
In a letter to supporters, Sabet wrote:
"I was honored to work side-by-side with Regina during my time in the Obama Administration when she served as ONDCP Chief of Staff. With Regina taking the reins for now and with a new administration being sworn in today, we are hitting the ground running."
Most recently, LaBelle was program director of the Addiction and Public Policy Initiative at the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown Law.
Her bio reads, in part:
"Before joining the Institute, LaBelle worked as the Chief of Staff and senior policy advisor in the ONDCP during the Obama Administration. At ONDCP she oversaw the Agency’s efforts to address the opioid epidemic and other drug policy issues, including overseeing implementation of the National Drug Control Strategy. Prior to her work at the national level, LaBelle served as legal counsel to Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels where she provided legal and policy advice to the Mayor on high-profile city initiatives. From 1998-2005, LaBelle was an adjunct professor of policy and ethics at the Seattle University Institute for Policy Studies."
LaBelle's an addiction specialist, which is fine to fight the opioid epidemic. But how will she deal with marijuana?
You’ll also notice how we congratulate @ReginaLabelle on her swearing in later today as Acting Director and Deputy @ONDCP! One of the most talented people I worked with there. Congratulations Regina! https://t.co/6JSyyIo8nG— Kevin Sabet (@KevinSabet) January 20, 2021
Sabet, who also worked at the ONDCP from 2009-2011 under then-Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske, futher detailed SAM's 2021 objectives:
"We sent a comprehensive roadmap for drug policy to our contacts in the Biden Administration that is centered on President Joe Biden’s marijuana policy stance and the platform of the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force. As you may remember, while the Democratic Primary was winding down, the campaigns of Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders sat down to develop a party platform. And despite pressure from the marijuana industry and its army of lobbyists and activists, the Biden camp refused to endorse legalization.
"As such, we have developed a comprehensive, ten-point policy plan for the incoming administration that will help us move forward on drug policy.
"Chief among the list of policy and future action recommendations is the removal of criminal penalties for marijuana use and replacing them with directions to brief interventions, and, if necessary, treatment.
"Sensible policies, like increasing research, removing barriers to data gathering, and reforming federal laws in these areas are tangible policy outcomes that can be accomplished without the establishment of a commercial marijuana industry.
"Furthermore, given the widespread five-alarm fire that we are seeing with increases in substance use, the position of Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) must be re-elevated to its former status as a Cabinet-level position, with the Director’s position on marijuana mirroring that of the President-Elect.
"We are also urging the Biden Administration to immediately implement a public awareness campaign seeking to discourage young people from using marijuana and educating parents on today’s high potency marijuana.
"These policy proposals outline where our priorities will be focused this year at the federal level and given President Biden’s previous positions and his preference for listening to the science, we are hopeful that we will have success in seeing these policies implemented."
The White House taking cues from Sabet and SAM on marijuana policy can't be a good thing. But clearly Sabet is pushing his conservative-to-moderate agenda via LaBelle. Vice President Kamala Harris, who's pro-legalization and a former progressive prosecutor, will most likely stand in SAM's way.