Who Will Be the Nation's Next Drug Czar?

The drug czar sweepstakes is heating up. Here are four candidates being considered for the ONDCP/Office of National Drug Control Policy's executive director position:


Regina LaBelle

Regina LaBelle

In January, we wrote about acting drug czar Regina LaBelle and her connection to Kevin Sabet and Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), the conservative anti-cannabis organization.  Previously, 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.


Rahul Gupta

Rahul Gupta

A frequent talking head on MSNBC, Gupta is currently senior vice president and chief medical and health officer at March of Dimes and the former health commisioner of West Virginia. That state's conservative Democrat Joe Manchin is supporting Gupta, who's been criticized by the National Alliance for Medication Assisted Recovery for "placing a moratorium on new opioid-treatment programs."


H. Westley Calrk

H. Westley Clark 

An executive professor of public health at Santa Clara University in California, Clark focuses on "clinical and policy issues associated with the use of psychoactive substances," according to his bio. He was previously on NIDA's National Advisory Council. Like LaBelle, Clark's an addiction specialist. If selected, he'd become the first Black drug czar since Lee Brown in 1995.

SAM honorary advisor Patrick Kennedy would be the absolutely worst choice for the job of drug czar.

Patrick Kennedy

Patrick Kennedy

Recovering drug addict, former U.S. House member, son of Teddy and SAM co-founder, Kennedy would be the absolutely worst choice for the job of drug czar. Both he and Sabet favor medical access, but oppose legal adult use. SAM was behind the recent comments made by Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, who said, "If you use marijuiana, you're going to kill your kids." Former drug czar Gen. Barry McCaffrey and Kennedy are SAM's honorary advisors.


Previous Drug Czars

Harry J. Anslinger - commissioner, Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 1930-1962

• Jerome Jaffe - chief, Special Action Office for Drug Abuse Prevention, 1971-1972

• Myles Ambrose - director, Office of Drug Abuse Law Enforcement, 1972

• Robert DuPont - director, National Institute on Drug Abuse, 1973-1977

Peter Bourne - director, National Drug Control Policy, 1977-1978

• Mathea Falco - senior adviser, International Narcotic Matters, 1977-1979

• Carleton Turner - director, Drug Abuse Policy Office, 1980-1988

• D. Ian McDonald - deputy assistant, Drug Abuse Policy Officem 1988

• William Bennett - director, ONDCP, 1989-1990

• Bob Martinez - director, ONDCP, 1991-1993

• Lee Brown - director, ONDCP, 1993-1996

• Barry McCaffrey - director, ONDCP, 1996-2001

• Ed Jurith - director, ONDCP, 2001, 2009

• John Walters - director, ONDCP, 2001-2009

Gil Kerlikowske - director, ONDCP, 2009-2014

Michael Botticelli - director, ONDCP, 2014-2017

• Kemp Chester - director, ONDCP, 2017

• Rich Baum - director, ONDCP, 2017-2018

• Jim Carroll - director, ONDCP, 2018-2021

• Regina LaBelle - director, ONDCP, 2021


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Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

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