New DEA Head Says Proposition 36 Could Be a Model for Treatment
The newly sworn in Drug Enforcement Administration administrator, Asa Hutchinson, called California's Proposition 36 one of "the new approaches that we ought to be open to" in drug enforcement, the Los Angeles Times reports. Proposition 36 is the voter-approved initiative that directs some nonviolent offenders to drug treatment instead of prison. Hutchinson said, "We need to watch the California experiment. I think it's a strong statement by the population there that (residents want to) take a look at treatment for nonviolent drug users rather than incarceration." He also said that he wants to work with the state on two potential "difficulties" -- the lack of mandated drug testing to ensure offenders are "staying the course" and a potential lack of rehabilitation facilities. "California's going to have to invest in that. It doesn't do any good to refer (drug offenders) treatment if there's not strong programs. I think we need to work with California to make it work," Hutchinson said.
Hutchinson also commented on medical marijuana, saying that he would enforce a federal ban, even though California and seven other states allow marijuana for medical purposes. There is "little scientific evidence to suggest any real benefits" from medical marijuana, Hutchinson said. But he was vague about how the DEA would go about enforcing the ban. He said, "You're not going to tolerate a violation of law, but at the same time there are a lot of different relationships, a lot of different aspects that we have to consider as we develop that enforcement policy" (Lichtblau, Los Angeles Times, 8/21).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.