Drug czar

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Drug Czar is an informal name for the person who directs drug-control policies in the United States, following the U.S. use of the 'czar' term. The 'drug czar' title was first published in a 1982 news story by United Press International which reported that “Senators... voted 62–34 to establish a ‘drug czar’ who would have overall responsibility for U.S. drug policy.”[1] Since then, several ad hoc executive positions in both the United States and United Kingdom have been established which have been subsequently referred to in this manner.

In his first interview since being confirmed to head the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy with the Washington Post, Gil Kerlikowske said the bellicose analogy was a barrier to dealing with the nation's drug issues:

"Regardless of how you try to explain to people it's a 'war on drugs' or a 'war on a product,' people see a war as a war on them. We're not at war with people in this country."[2]

United States[edit]

Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske speaks with staff and patients at the Covenant House, which helps drug-addicted teenagers and adults.

The first US Drug Czar was Harry J. Anslinger who served as the first Commissioner of the Treasury-Board created Federal Bureau of Narcotics from 1930-1962, under the administrations of five presidents: Hoover, Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy. Legislative efforts for marijuana prohibition under Anslinger included a push for all states to adopt similar drug laws, the Uniform State Narcotic Drug Act and the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 which in effect criminalized the drug and set the stage for marijuana prohibition.

Nixon and Ford administrations[edit]

Carter administration[edit]

Reagan administration[edit]

  • Carlton Turner PhD, ScD, Director of the Drug Abuse Policy Office
  • D. Ian McDonald, MD. Deputy Assistant to the President, Drug Abuse Policy Office


Trump administration[edit]

United Kingdom[edit]

In the UK, Keith Hellawell, former Drugs Advisor to the Labour government of Tony Blair, has been referred to as a drug czar.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Anthony H. Gamboa (4 January 2005). "Letter to Hon. John W. Olver & Hon. Henry A. Waxman, subject: Office of National Drug Control Policy" (PDF). csdp.org. U.S. Government Accountability Office. pp. 14–15. Retrieved 4 August 2014. We conclude that ONDCP’s prepackaged news stories violate the ban on covert propaganda, but its use of the term “Drug Czar” to refer to ONDCP’s Director does not violate the ban on self-aggrandizement. 
  2. ^ Gary Fields (14 May 2009). "White House Czar Calls for End to 'War on Drugs'". WSJ. 
  3. ^ https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2017/03/29/chris-christie-to-lead-trump-white-house-drug-commission/

External links[edit]