When it comes to addressing America's disastrous war on drugs, the Obama administration appears to be moving in the right direction -- albeit very, very cautiously.
On the rhetorical front, all the president's men are saying the right things.
In his first interview since being confirmed, Obama's new drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske, said that we need to stop looking at our drug problem as a war. "Regardless of how you try to explain to people it's a 'war on drugs" or a 'war on product,'" he told theWall Street Journal, "people see war as a war on them. We're not at war with people in this country."
He also said that it was time to focus more on treatment and less on incarceration.
Earlier this year, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the federal government would no longer raid and prosecutedistributors of medical marijuana who operate in accordance with state law in the 13 states where voters have made it legal.
Holder has also said that his department intends to eliminate the outrageous and prejudicial sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine.
And while on the campaign trail, President Obama called for repealing the ban on federal funding for anti-AIDS programs that supply clean needles to drug users.
All positive signs that we are ready to move beyond our failed war on drugs.
But when it comes to putting its rhetoric into action, the Obama administration has faltered.
Just a week after the Attorney General said there would be no more medical marijuana raids, the DEA raided a licensed medical marijuana dispensary in California.
Obama's '09-'10 budget proposes to continue the longstanding ban on federal funding of needle exchange programs.