Traffic Web Campaign to President Bush: Appoint a Drug Czar Who Will ‘Think Outside the Box’

Press Release September 26, 2001
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Tony Newman at 510-208-7711, a website sponsored by The Lindesmith Center – Drug Policy Foundation (Lindesmith-DPF), the nation’s leading organization working to end the war on drugs, is urging President Bush to appoint a drug czar who will “think outside the box,” as Michael Douglas’ character pleads for in the movie Traffic.

The drug czar is the director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, which oversees all federal anti-drug efforts.

In Traffic, the drug czar (played by Michael Douglas) is a tough-on-crime judge who learns the futility of the war on drugs. The Bush Administration is about to appoint a new drug czar – and encourages its visitors to help influence the President’s choice.

“Our nation’s drug policy is doomed so long as no one in power is willing and able to admit the drug war’s failure and look for real alternatives,” said Ethan Nadelmann, Executive Director of Lindesmith-DPF. “What we need today is a drug czar who will talk honestly and openly about the totality of drug use in America, and who will address the negative consequences of our current policies.”

Drug policy reformers point out that illegal drugs are cheaper, purer and more available than ever — while taxpayers have spent tens of billions of dollars, nearly half a million Americans are behind bars on drug charges, and 200,000 cases of HIV have been generated by injection drug use when implementation of public health measures like needle exchange could have averted much of the tragedy. was released on February 13 to highlight the links between the hit movie Traffic and the real-life war on drugs. Traffic was nominated for five Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Screenplay (adapted).

Visitors to the website can try to “win” the war on drugs by picking from several of our government’s current strategies: locking up all drug users and dealers; sending guns and money to Mexico and Colombia to cut off the drug supply; and promoting “Just Say No” campaigns in schools. Each strategy fails.

Players will also be eligible to win a free Traffic DVD or video. In addition the site includes ways to get more information on drug education, marijuana regulation, needle exchange and other issues related to our current drug policy.

“It doesn’t make that much difference if the new drug czar is a doctor or a police chief or a former politician — so as long as he or she has the intelligence and courage to ask the tough questions and challenge the fears, ignorance and prejudices that drive our current approaches,” said Nadelmann.

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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