Thursday, December 11, 2008

Critics Attack Ramstad as Possible Drug Czar Candidate

December 10, 2008

Former Rep. Jim Ramstad (R-Minn.) might not even be in the running for the job of Barack Obama's drug czar, but that hasn't stopped critics from saying he would be a poor choice because of his past opposition to needle-exchange programs and medical marijuana.

Ramstad's name has been floated as a possible pick for director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) in the Obama administration, although some sources say he is more likely to be tapped as head of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Letter-writing campaigns by the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), a group of addiction-treatment professionals led by the past president of the addictions division at the New York State Psychological Association, and the National Black Police Association (NBPA) urge the president-elect not to make Ramstad the nominal chief of the national war on drugs.

"While we applaud Representative Ramstad for his courageous and steady support for expanding drug treatment access and improving addiction awareness, and honor his own personal and very public triumph over addiction, we have strong reservations about his candidacy for the drug czar position," according to the letter sent to Obama and signed by DPF and NBPA as well as a variety of AIDS prevention groups and others. "In his twenty-eight years in the U.S. House, Representative Ramstad has consistently opposed policies that seek to reduce drug-related harm and create common ground on polarizing issues."

Writing in the Huffington Post, Maia Szalavitz also criticized Ramstad for once earmarking $235,000 for the Minnesota chapter of the controversial Teen Challenge program.

Obama's transition team has not made any public announcements about filling the position of ONDCP director.

1 comment:

TWAllen said...

Do you really think that Obama will be concerned about Teen Challenge since he himself has requested money for Teen Challenge in Illinois.