Hello, America. You’ve got a new Drug Czar and his name is Richard Baum. While the title “drug czar” conjures (for us at least) images of a heroin cartel leader lounging by the olympic-sized swimming pool of their vast, remote Oaxaca estate, in fact Richard Baum is a seasoned technocrat with decades of experience in White House drug policy who probably lives in a decent two-story home somewhere in the forested Virginia suburbs outside D.C..
Baum has served under both the Obama administration and the latter Bush administration, worked as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University, and (according to his Linked in page) has a dog named Cody (that’s really on there).
On Tuesday, Dan Diamond of Politico announced via Twitter that Baum had got the job of acting drug czar, an unofficial term for director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).
What exactly does the ONDCP do, as opposed to say the Justice Department or the DEA? Well, if you ask WhiteHouse.gov, it says, “Check back soon for more information.” So, we guess they’re not too sure themselves. If you ask Wikipedia what the ONDCP does, it says its “stated goal is to establish policies, priorities, and objectives to eradicate illicit drug use, manufacturing, and trafficking, drug-related crime and violence, and drug-related health consequences in the U.S.”
Maybe part of the reason the White House’s webpage for the agency is still blank is that the key word in Baum’s title is “acting” drug czar. Presumably somebody else is yet to take permanent reigns on the ONDCP. Though, given the administration’s current vacancies in federal positions, that somebody might not come along any time soon.
Meanwhile, some changes to federal drug laws are expected in the near future following the President Trump’s executive order to create the President’s Commission on Combating Opioid Abuse, Addiction, and Overdose.
Headed by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, the commission will in the next 90 days, “make recommendations for potential legislative or regulatory changes in federal criminal law or processes, to facilitate treatment and recovery for offenders who suffer from addiction, and the use of prisoner reentry programs to help sustain recovery after incarceration with a consideration for the impacts on children.”
Photo via Wikimedia Commons