Director of the US White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), R. Gil Kerlikowske, visited the EU drugs agency (EMCDDA) in Lisbon today for talks with the agency’s Director Wolfgang Götz and principal scientists. The meeting offered a forum for exchanging views on EU and US drug policy developments and for showcasing the latest projects and activities.
During the meeting, analysts compared notes on a broad range issues, including: drugged driving; best practice and demand reduction approaches; early-warning systems on new drugs; and the medical use of cannabis. The development of supply and supply-reduction indicators was prominent on the agenda, ahead of the first European conference on this issue to be held in Brussels in October (1). The status of cooperation between the two bodies was also reviewed. Informal contacts have been ongoing since 1998.
Nominated by President Obama, Mr Kerlikowske took up office as ONDCP Director on 7 May 2009. In this role, he coordinates all aspects of federal drug control programmes and is charged with producing and implementing the President's national drug control strategy. The former Seattle police chief brings almost 40 years of law- enforcement and drug policy experience to the position.
This is the third visit of a US ‘drug tsar’ to the EMCDDA premises. General Barry McCaffrey attended an informal US–EU Drug Forum organised by the EMCDDA and ONDCP in Lisbon in 1998, and addressed the EMCDDA Management Board the following year (2).
During his visit to Portugal, Mr Kerlikowske held meetings with Portuguese Secretary of State for Health Dr Manuel Pizarro, and with Portuguese drug coordinator João Goulão, Director of the Instituto da Droga e da Toxicodependência (IDT).