Monday 16 March 2009 20.31 GMT
The Obama administration signalled today that it was ready to repudiate the prohibition and “war on drugs” approach of previous presidents, and steer policy towards prevention and “harm reduction” strategies favoured by Europe.
David Johnson, an assistant secretary of state, said the new administration would embrace policies supporting federally funded needle exchanges. The aim, he said, was to establish a policy based on public health needs. “This will result in a policy that is broader and stronger than the one we had in the past,” Johnson said on the sidelines of a UN drug strategy conference in Vienna.
In a statement last week announcing the nomination of the new drug czar, Obama said: “With escalating violence along our Southwest border and far too many suffering from addiction here at home, never has it been more important to have a national drug control strategy guided by sound principles of public safety and public health.”