Pubdate: Fri, 06 Feb 2015
Source: Palm Beach Post, The (FL)
Copyright: 2015 The Palm Beach Post
Author: Rob Hotakainen, Tribune News Service


Michael Botticelli's Anti-Pot Legalization Stand Worries Some.

WASHINGTON - Michael Botticelli is not like drug czars of the past.

He's not a cop, a military general or a governor. His specialty is 
treatment; he rose to prominence as the head of the Massachusetts 
Bureau of Substance Abuse Services.

And Botticelli, who's served as the acting drug czar since last 
March, is a recovering alcoholic who has been sober for more than a 
quarter of a century, after a 1988 drunken-driving accident left him 
handcuffed to a hospital bed.

On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted unanimously to 
approve President Barack Obama's recommendation to make Botticelli, 
57, the nation's seventh drug czar, a big jump for a man who had 
various part-time jobs in the 1990s, including one as a Pottery Barn 

The full Senate still must vote on whether to approve Botticelli for 
the job, formally called the director of the Office of National Drug 
Control Policy.

Botticelli already has found himself in the middle of the nation's pot wars.

Those who support marijuana legalization note Botticelli's opposition 
and say he should back off and take a cue from the president, who's 
made it clear that he's comfortable allowing states to experiment 
with selling pot.

Legalization opponents, meanwhile, say Botticelli talks tough but 
should be doing more to get the Justice Department and Obama to 
enforce the federal law that criminalizes marijuana.

Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority, a pro-legalization group, 
said Botticelli was "clearly in a tough place," with states moving 
quickly to legalize marijuana and polls showing most Americans 
supporting an end to criminal penalties.

"His best bet, and probably preference, would be to just shut up 
about the issue," Angell said. "Unluckily for him, though, people 
keep asking him about it."

Responding to questions from senators in a written statement, 
Botticelli said that marijuana posed serious health risks and that he 
was concerned about the cross-border trafficking of the drug outside 
Colorado, where its use is legal under state law.

Many members of Congress, including Senate Judiciary Committee 
Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, complain that the Obama 
administration has sent too many mixed messages on the subject.

Critics had urged the president not to appoint another drug czar, 
saying the office had become irrelevant.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom